Expanding and Improving Specialized Cancer Programs: Disease-Specific Growth Plans

Introducing new technologies. Using genetic data to target cancer treatments. Finding a less invasive way to diagnose and treat a tumor.

Cancer physicians at Premier Health are working with each other and administrators to find better ways to treat different cancer types. Our specialists in lung, blood, brain and spine (neuro-oncology), prostate, and breast cancers have made notable strides in transforming the depth of these individualized cancer services for the people of Southwest Ohio.

Their efforts complement the breadth of cancer care that delivers high quality cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, integrative services, and survivorship follow-up care to every person with cancer who comes to Premier Health.  

“Our physician leaders are stepping up to guide us in improving outcomes and remaining a strong leader in cancer care in the region,” says Mikki Clancy, Premier Health system vice president for oncology services.

Here are highlights of our progress in 2020.

Lung Cancer

Jose Rodriguez, MD, FACS, newly appointed medical director of thoracic surgical care, is working with area pulmonologists to improve diagnosis and treatment for Jose Rodriguez, MD, FACS, newly appointed medical director of thoracic surgical care, is working with area pulmonologists to improve diagnosis and treatment for lung cancer. Accomplishments over the past year include:

  • Introducing new technologies, such as the Monarch™ Platform, a robotic bronchoscopy that provides improved reach, vision, and control for viewing inside airways during a lung biopsy. Premier Health is the first in Ohio to use this robotic bronchoscopy technology.
  • Forming a system-wide tumor board that brings together a number of specialists who treat lung cancer and provide input on patient treatment plans. The organized conferences have improved dialogue and discussion around treatment for specific lung cancer types.

Blood Cancer

Collaboration among medical oncologists and pathologists at Premier Health has led to the development of more targeted treatments of blood cancers, including leukemias.

Medical oncologist Kelly Robbins Miller, MD, PhD, and her colleagues worked closely with pathologist Atef Shrit, MD, and other pathologists to develop protocols for ordering appropriate genetic testing.

“As we learn more about the complex, dynamic nature of blood cancers, we are now able to use genetic data to further classify and effectively treat these diseases,” Dr. Miller says.

Oncologists are also working with hospitalists and primary care physicians to streamline the referral process and achieve earlier diagnosis of blood cancers.


For patients with For patients with brain and spine cancer that requires both surgery and radiation therapy, neurosurgeon Ania Pollack, MD, medical oncologist Satheesh Kathula, MD, and radiation oncologist Ryan Steinmetz, MD, have established a collaborative treatment planning process that addresses the order of treatments and how to optimize results for the patient.

They and other specialists who treat brain and spine cancer see patients at a weekly neuro-oncology multidisciplinary clinic at Miami Valley Hospital South’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. Patients can see the physicians they need on the same day, without traveling from place to place. This is of great benefit to patients who may have cognitive or physical impairments from cancer.

Premier Health’s neuro-oncology tumor board enables physicians treating patients with brain and spine tumors to come together weekly to discuss cases and propose individualized treatment plans. Each plan addresses all aspects of the individual’s mind, body, and spirit.

Prostate Cancer

Urologists Mark Monsour, MD, and David Key, MD, have been instrumental in expanding the usage of the UroNav Fusion Biopsy System in clinic settings to diagnose and help manage prostate cancer. Funded by the Miami Valley Hospital Foundation, the robotic surgery system allows a surgeon great visualization and precision to remove a portion of a prostate tumor without surgery. It can be used to diagnose prostate cancer and is frequently used for treatment planning for robotic surgery and radiation therapy for prostate cancer. UroNav also helps monitor patients with a diagnosis of prostate cancer who are on active surveillance.

UroNav combines powerful 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the prostate with ultrasound-guided biopsy images in real time, allowing radiologists to pinpoint specific areas of the prostate for biopsy.

“This allows us to better identify clinically relevant prostate cancers and focus our biopsy more accurately on these suspicious areas located on MRI,” says Dr. Monsour. “It allows patients to have their cancers identified without having to go through multiple sets of biopsies that were previously done with only ultrasound guidance.”

Breast Cancer

Breast surgeons Melissa Roelle, MD, FACS, and Thomas Heck, MD, FACS, along with radiologists Diane Anderson, DO, and Patricia Braeuning, MD, have worked together to compress the timeframe for patients going through diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. By improving communication among physicians and coordinating appointments more efficiently, the breast cancer program aims to shorten the amount of time for women undergoing breast cancer testing and treatment. A nurse navigator is available to streamline the process, as well.

The breast cancer program has also worked diligently in the second half of 2020 to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on routine screenings. Dr. Roelle emphasizes how important it is for women to continue to get mammograms for early detection of breast cancer.

Headshot of Jose R. Rodriguez, MD

Jose R. Rodriguez, MD

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Headshot of Kelly Robbins Miller, MD,PhD

Kelly Robbins Miller, MD,PhD

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Mohammed Atef Shrit, MD

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Ryan Steinmetz, MD

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Mark Monsour, MD

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David Key, MD

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Headshot of Melissa Roelle, MD,FACS

Melissa Roelle, MD,FACS

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Headshot of Diane Anderson, DO

Diane Anderson, DO

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Headshot of M. Patricia Braeuning, MD

M. Patricia Braeuning, MD

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