Oldest Cancer Hospital in the World

Oldest Cancer Hospital in the World

Cancer is still one of the most feared illnesses in the world. The cure for the disease is still being researched. While the present treatment options help completely get rid of cancer, there are limitations.

Throughout history, a few hospitals have done groundbreaking research, innovative treatments, and patient care for cancer. Let us look at the 6 oldest cancer hospitals in the world.

6. Bendheim Integrative Medicine Center (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)

Year Established: 1997
Location: New York City, New York, USA (within Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)
Still Operating: No (closed, but integrative medicine services continue at MSKCC)

Bendheim Integrative Medicine CenterPhoto Source: Yelp

Established in 1997, the Bendheim Integrative Medicine Center was one of the first facilities within the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). They are dedicated to exploring the potential of complementary and integrative therapies in cancer care.

The center occupied a historic former bank building dating back to the 1930s, designed by architects Perkins and Will, and located at 1429 First Avenue in Manhattan.

At the Bendheim Integrative Medicine Center, MSKCC offers a range of integrative therapies, including acupuncture, massage therapy, and mind-body techniques, to support patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

The center was crucial in advancing research on the potential benefits of integrative therapies in cancer care and fostered a holistic approach to patient care.

Did You know?

While the Bendheim Center closed, MSKCC continues integrative services. The center was one of the first to explore complementary therapies for cancer care.

5. V. G. Khlopin Radium Institute

Year Established: 1922 (as the State Radium Institute)
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Still Operating: Yes

V. G. Khlopin Radium InstitutePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

G. Khlopin Radium Institute (also known as the First Radium Institute) was founded in 1922 as the state Radium Institute. It was founded under the initiative of V.I. Vernadsky, integrating all radiological enterprises in St. Petersburg (then Petrograd) at the time.

The institute played a major role in the development of nuclear physics, radiochemistry, and radioecology. They introduced work in the production of high-enriched radium compounds.

During World War II, the Radium Institute was relocated to Kazan under the leadership of Abram Ioffe, confirming the continuity of its research efforts.

Today, the V.G. Khlopin Radium Institute is a subsidiary company of the Rosatom Russian state corporation, specializing in nuclear physics, radiochemistry, radioecology, and isotope production.

Did You know?

In 1932, George Gamow and Lev Mysovskii proposed the construction of the first European cyclotron at the Radium Institute. It was operational by 1937 with the help of Igor Kurchatov.

4. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC)

Year Established: 1898
Location: New York City, New York, USA
Still Operating: Yes

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) was first launched as the New York State Pathological Laboratory of the University of Buffalo in 1898. It was established as the world’s first cancer research laboratory.

Surgeon Dr. Rosewell Park played a major role in securing, funding, and establishing the laboratory. It later became a world-renowned cancer center.  MSKCC has been part of a lot of important discoveries in history. William B. Coley’s work in immunotherapy, Karl Landsteiner’s discovery of blood groups, and the development of combination chemotherapy have all had MSKCC as a major part.

Today, MSKCC stands as a global leader in cancer research and treatment. They collaborate with leading institutions worldwide to provide the best patient care.

Did You know?

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s main building was designed by one of the most influential architects of the time,  James Gibbs. 

3. Vienna General Hospital (Allgemeines Krankenhaus der Stadt Wien)

Year Established: 1697
Location: Vienna, Austria
Still Operating: Yes

Vienna General HospitalPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Vienna General Hospital, or Allgemeines Krankenhaus der Stadt Wien (AKH), was founded in 1697. While the AKH Vienna Oncology Center started functioning only in 2011, it is actually one of the oldest and largest hospitals in Europe.

With major names such as Ignaz Semmelweis and Karl Landsteiner, the hospital played a notable role in the development of modern medicine. Ignaz Semmelweis made unorthodox observations on hygiene, and Karl Landsteiner discovered the existence of different blood groups.

AKH was one of the first to introduce cancer treatments and radiation therapy advancements. In 1931, they installed the world’s most powerful 900k-volt X-ray tube. It revolutionized cancer treatments.

Today, AKH is a leading European medical center. They employ over 9,000 people and treat nearly 95,000 inpatients annually.  AKH is also the university hospital for the Medical University of Vienna.

Did You know?

The historic Narrenturm (Fool’s Tower) in the old Vienna General Hospital was built in 1784. It was the first building worldwide designed specifically for the accommodation of mental patients. Now, the building is turned into the Federal Pathological-Anatomical Museum.

2. Hôpital Saint-Louis

Year Established: 1611
Location: Paris, France
Still Operating: Yes

Hôpital Saint-LouisPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hôpital Saint-Louis is one of the oldest hospitals in Paris. It was founded in 1611 by architect Claude Vellefaux at the request of Henry IV of France.  The hospital was initially established to solve the overcrowding at the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris during the plague and was named in memory of Louis IX, who died of dysentery.

The oncology department was added in the 1980s, along with dermatology and hematology. Throughout its history, its focus and contributions were more on dermatological research and treatment. They are home to the famous INSERM Institute of Research on Skin.

Some of the initial premises of the hospital are classified as historical monuments today. But they are still used for administrative functions. The present hospital and teaching facilities are in the newer building additions.

Did You know?

Hôpital Saint-Louis still specializes in oncology, dermatology, and hematology. It also has over 2,500 employees, including 1,000 medical professionals.

​1.​ St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (Barts)

Year Established: 1123
Location: London, England, UK
Still Operating: Yes

St. Bartholomew's HospitalPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

St. Bartholomew Hospital was founded in 1123.  It is the oldest hospital in Britain and was started by Rahere, a courtier of King Henry I. The hospital is still providing medical services on its original site.

In 1954, St.Bartholomew’s Hospital became the first in Britain to treat cancer patients by introducing mega-voltage radiotherapy.

Apart from its cancer treatments, Barts was part of many major medical research and teachings. Barts was associated with major notable figures like William Harvey and Percivall Pott. William Harvey conducted innovative research on the circulatory system. Percivall Pott developed important principles of modern surgery.

Barts also played an important role in the development of the nursing profession. Notable roles like Mrs. Bedford Fenwick worked to advance the field in the late 19th century.

The hospital’s architecture is also amazing. You’ll definitely stop and stare atthe henry VIII entrance and the James Gibbs designed Great Hall.

St. Bartholomew Hospital (Barts) still continues to be known for its focus on dermatology, hematology, and oncology departments.

Did You know?

St. Bartholomew Hospital has a dedicated Barts Pathology Museum with over 4,000 medical specimens.


These 6 oldest cancer hospitals in the world have made major contributions to the treatment of cancer.  As people across the world are still fighting this dangerous disease, such hospitals and professionals are looking for ways to improve its treatment and even prevent it.

Their research and developments in the field of oncology have advanced medical treatments and compassionate patient care. Let’s be grateful that they are making it a little bit easier for those suffering.

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