Department of Clinical Oncology @ Ospedale San Raffaele

The San Raffaele Research Hospital is one of the top list hospitals for cancer care in the nation and is an active part of a world-broad network against cancer. This is possible because patient care is always its top priority and because it is a Hospital known as one of the top facilities in the nation, also in other medical fields, thus offering highly specialized professional and holistic approaches and global care for its patients. The doctors have great expertise in diagnosing and treating all types of cancers, but in treatment of specific cancers they may offer largely unparalleled opportunities. All the latest technology and the most innovative, advanced therapies are used to increase the chances for cure. The close collaboration between doctors and clinical research scientists involved in the cure of cancer patients also means that new drugs and therapies can be moved quickly to the bedside, offering patients improved treatment options.

The Department’s mission is that of providing Individualized expert treatment. This is achieved through Interdisciplinary discussions for optimal therapeutic management in the context of Disease-specific Units. The Institution is recognized as a National Research Institute with a specific mission to promote Molecular Medicine.

Therefore, it is believed that each patient is unique and each type of cancer is different. There is always a suitable treatment for every patient and the team of experts have to assure that the treatment recommended at the Hospital is the most accurate. 

Getting the Correct Diagnosis and Treatment depends on personnel expertise and the Department may offer that. It has a unified approach to care: a team of doctors with different complementary specialties work together to guide each patient through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Thus, the treatment plans reflect the combined expertise of many ultra-specialized doctors — surgeons, medical oncologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, internal medicine specialist and cardiologist. Multidisciplinary approach is applied when dealing with the malignancies of the Breast, Lung, Gastrointestinal (oesophageal, gastric and colon), Genitourinary (kidney, testicular and bladder), Gynaecologic Oncology that reach between 800-1000 new cases per year. It is worth highlighting the expertise in Pancreatic cancer (national expert centre) and particular focus on Biliary tract, Liver, Brain, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck (ear, nose, throat, thyroid) malignancies, Cutaneous and Uveal Melanoma, Neuroendocrine tumours and Mesothelioma which notably requires highly specialized skills, advanced technologies and long-term experience.

In each disease-specific Unit, a group of Physicians is dedicated to the treatment and follow-up of patients according to guidelines or to approved protocols for experimental treatment.

The teams have an in-depth, documented and ultra-specialized experience. This approach also ensures that patients who need several different therapies to treat their cancer will receive the ideal combination. Considering that in the hospital there are several other areas of expertise in a wide range of medical fields, such as cardiovascular/ neurology/ infective disorders/ immunological disorders and so on, the team is able to offer the best suitable therapy also for the patients with different comorbidities that might be seen as an obstacle to cancer care.

Moreover, the medical oncologists are leaders in developing new chemotherapy, immunotherapy and bio-targeted agents that are safer and more effective than standard therapies. They can also help patients manage the side effects of chemotherapy so that patients can lead relatively normal lives while receiving any cancer specific therapy. Increasingly, the medical oncologists employ sophisticated technologies, such as immunotherapies and recently developed bio target-oriented agents also in combination with chemotherapy, to more effectively treat cancer.

The nurses work together with the doctors and are an essential part of the healthcare team. Their support, encouragement, and deep sense of caring bring tremendous comfort to patients and their loved ones. The Department’s specially trained oncology nurses care for patients before, during, and after surgery; help manage clinical trials, and educate patients about what to expect when they go home from the hospital. They also communicate with family members to address their needs and concerns. To help ensure a continuum of care, patients are typically cared for by the same nurses throughout their stay.

Genetic Counseling, Controlling Cancer Pain and Psychologic Support

The San Raffaele Hospital has notable activity on genetic analysis and counseling to evaluate, diagnose and support high-risk individuals. This activity is considered extremely important for patients and their families.      

The psychological effects of genetic counseling or cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Therefore, the Department has a specially trained psychiatrists and psychologists who can help individuals considered at risk or cancer patients and families deal with the stress, anxiety, and depression that can accompany a diagnosis of cancer and its treatment. Easing patients' distress can greatly improve the quality of their lives.

At the Institute, it is strongly believed that no cancer patient should suffer unmanageable cancer pain. The pain experts continue the use of new drugs and novel methods of drug delivery. There is a center-wide program to ensure that patients who have pain are identified and treated appropriately and effectively.

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Head physician

Stefano Cascinu

Stefano Cascinu

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Ospedale San Raffaele

The San Raffaele Research Hospital is a highly specialized multi-disciplinary medical center of world importance, which embodies the integrity of the treatment, clinical research and teaching activities. San Raffaele provides treatment in all existing medical fields, which allows this center to take care of the most complex patient cases. The Hospital is recognized as IRCCS (Scientific Institute for Research and Healthcare) for its research in molecular medicine and innovative treatments application, such as the gene therapy.

The hospital is a multi-specialty center with more than 50 clinical specialties available and with over 1600 beds; it is accredited by the Italian National Health System to provide care to both public and private, Italian and international patients. In 2018 the San Raffaele Hospital performed over 51,000 patient admissions, 72,000 emergency room encounters and delivered over 1.5 million outpatient medical services. It is widely regarded as the most celebrated hospital in the country and among the most reputable medical centers in Europe. San Raffaele’s wards and operating theatres are equipped with the most advanced machines, such as PET, PET/CT, Gamma Knife, Cyber Knife, Rapid Arc, Tomotherapy. San Raffaele’s Radiotherapy Unit was the first place in Europe to install Tomotherapy in 2004. Nowadays this Unit confirms to be one of the most experienced worldwide; it has developed numerous protocols for cancer treatment of the prostate, breast, central nervous system, brain, liver, pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and others. The Oncological Board of the Hospital consisting of diagnosticians, clinical oncologists, immunologists, surgeons and radiotherapists, hold weekly meetings to discuss oncological patients’ pathways in a multidisciplinary manner.

Beside its Cancer Center, San Raffaele is well-known for its medical know-how in cardiology and cardiac surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, gastroenterology and gastrointestinal tract surgery, liver surgery, pancreas surgery, transplant medicine, gynecology and obstetrics, urology, dermatology, ophthalmology, immunology, rheumatology and pediatrics.

San Raffaele is a pioneer in the field of gene medicine and treatment of rare immunologic and genetic diseases. San Raffaele Scientific Institute is where the first in the world gene therapy with stem cells was created, named Strimvelis, for patients affected by ADA-SCID syndrome.

The Research at the San Raffaele Hospital focuses on integrating basic, translational and clinical research to provide the most advanced care to the patients. It counts on over 1,500 scientists, working in state-of-the-art facilities covering a surface of 130,000 square meters, and have produced over 1,446 scientific publications in 2018. Research at San Raffaele aims at understanding the mechanisms underlying a variety of important human diseases and at identifying new targets and new therapeutic strategies to treat them.

The San Raffaele Hospital hosts the Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, a fully private university with a complete Medical School (including specialty courses and residencies), Nursing School, a Psychology graduate and post-graduate programs, and Allied Health Professions School. The mission of the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University is to answer the question "Quid est homo?" in the belief that the human being is a biological, psychological and spiritual unicum. Since 2010 the San Raffaele Hospital also hosts the International MD Program, the only graduate program accredited to license Medical Doctors in both Europe and North America.


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