Cancer Care 150 Years in the Making

Cancer Care 150 Years in the Making

“It’s just a miracle to be where I am today.”

Peter Pushor overcame life-threatening cancer—not just once, but twice—thanks to the care he received at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. And while his journey and treatment for esophageal cancer and squamous cell carcinoma were uniquely his own, Pushor is one of countless patients and families whose lives have been forever changed because of the Brigham’s multidisciplinary teams of cancer experts.

A long history of leadership in cancer care

The Brigham’s legacy in cancer care can be traced back nearly 150 years, when The Free Hospital for Women¬—one of the Brigham’s predecessor institutions—opened the first cancer ward in Boston and one of the first in the nation. In the decades since, the Brigham has built a world-renowned clinical, research, and education enterprise committed to providing the best care and outcomes to patients with cancer¬—and our donor community has been pivotal to this mission.

“Our donors understand the impact cancer has on individuals, families, and communities, and they know that Brigham and Women’s Hospital has the unique talent and expertise to transform cancer care,” says Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, Brigham president, executive vice president of Mass General Brigham, and the Nabel Family Professor of Surgery. “Their generosity and commitment are what make breakthroughs in cancer possible.”

Comprehensive care for our patients—every step of the way

At the Brigham, virtually every one of our clinical departments—including emergency medicine, surgery, radiation oncology, nursing, neurology, OB-GYN, orthopaedics, and multiple other specialties—is involved in caring for patients with cancer. We partner with the outpatient medical oncology services provided by our collaborators at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to deliver comprehensive, multidisciplinary care that meet all of our patients’ needs—before, during, and after treatment:

  • In the Brigham’s primary care practices, we’ve implemented ways to proactively identify patients due for cancer screenings to ensure timely preventive care.
  • Our Brigham clinicians can precisely detect and diagnose malignancies, thanks to our powerful imaging systems and a pathology department regarded as one of the best in the country.
  • Brigham radiation oncologists deliver precision radiation treatment to thousands of adults and children annually as the sole provider for the Brigham, Dana-Farber, and Boston Children’s Hospital.
  • When a patient’s treatment plan involves surgery, their procedures are performed at the Brigham by our surgical oncologists, among the most highly skilled and sought after in the country.
  • Whether they are recovering from surgery or are too ill to be home, many patients with cancer require inpatient care, which is provided at the Brigham by a multidisciplinary team of expert physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
  • When patients with cancer need emergency care, they can rely on the Brigham’s Emergency Department, where our clinicians are trained and experienced in caring for this high-risk patient population.
  • And when their treatment ends, patients can count on Brigham experts across multiple disciplines for their healthcare needs well into future—whether they’re dealing with the long-term physical and mental effects of cancer therapies, planning for a family, or navigating other health needs.

A leader in research and education

As a renowned academic medical center, the Brigham is committed to turning the research breakthroughs of today into the cancer treatments of tomorrow. Our clinical programs are backed by a rigorous research enterprise, where more than 2,000 Brigham scientists and clinicians are involved in cancer-related research. Their investigations span virtually every type of cancer—from the most pervasive forms to rarer malignancies—and seek to solve the biggest challenges of the disease.

Intrinsic to our cancer clinical care and research is exceptional medical education—a cornerstone of the Brigham. Our highly competitive training programs attract the best and brightest candidates, who are eager to learn alongside Brigham innovators. For example, last year our surgical residency program received more than 1,600 applicants—for just nine available spots.

Because of you

Philanthropy has always been part of the Brigham’s history, and our cancer story is no exception. Thanks to the generosity of our donors—like those profiled in the following pages—we can invest in the latest technologies, recruit world-class talent, fuel life-saving science, and train the cancer leaders and innovators of tomorrow.

But most important, we can make miracles, like Peter’s story, a reality.