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September 12, 2016
ACCC Mourns the Loss of Robert W. Frelick, MD, FACP, Community Oncology Leader and ACCC Past-President
The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) is saddened by the loss of Robert W. Frelick, MD, FACP, a strong supporter of ACCC and the mission of ensuring quality cancer care for patients in the communities where they live. Throughout his long career, Dr. Frelick worked to expand and improve access to cancer care and clinical trials, not only in his home state of Delaware, but throughout the country. Dr. Frelick, who passed away on Thursday, Sept. 1, at 96 years of age, served as ACCC president 1980-1981.
During the 1980s, Dr. Frelick, together with other ACCC leadership, advocated strongly for the involvement of community physicians in clinical research. Ultimately, through combined efforts of ACCC, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the American Cancer Society, Congress and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recognized the potential of involving community oncologists in cooperative clinical trials, launching the Cooperative Group Outreach Program (CGOP) and the Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP). The CCOP program helped bring state-of-the-art cancer care to patients in their home communities.
“Dr. Frelick’s career spanned decades which brought tremendous advances in cancer care, yet what remains unchanged is the need to ensure patient access to care close to home,” said Christian Downs, JD, MHA, Executive Director, ACCC. “His legacy is the empowering story of what can be achieved by dedicated providers working together for a common cause.”
For more than three decades Dr. Frelick remained actively involved with ACCC, serving on the Board of Trustees and on numerous committees; contributing to the association’s journal, Oncology Issues; and participating in ACCC national meetings.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Frelick was a consultant in medical oncology in hospitals in Delaware and New Jersey. From 1982-1987, he served at NCI as program director for the Community Clinical Oncology Program. Upon leaving NCI, he joined the Division of Public Health of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services for eight years. He developed a cancer registry for State of Delaware and served as Director of Chronic Diseases for the state, as well as Medical Director of the South Jersey Regional Cancer Center. Dr. Frelick played an important role in the 1997 merger of three Delaware hospitals to form the Christiana Health System and in the establishment of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center at Christiana.
Dr. Frelick taught at schools of medicine and nursing, including serving as a lecturer, assistant professor, and honorary clinical professor at the University of Delaware, Temple University, and the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia.
In addition to ACCC, Dr. Frelick was an active participant in the American Medical Association, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the American School Health Association. He also served as a surveyor for the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (1989-1997). He was a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, serving as its governor for Delaware (1975-1980). Dr. Frelick also served as a volunteer with numerous national, state, and community organizations including CARE and the Delmarva Boy Scout Council.
He received his medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine. He is survived by his wife of 72 years and five children, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.