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Duke Cancer Institute

Duke Cancer Institute

2424 Erwin Road
Durham, NC 27710

(919) 684-3377

Learn More about this Cancer Center

Located in Durham, North Carolina, the Duke Cancer Institute is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center – one of just 40 in the entire United States. The Institute is affiliated with the Duke University Health System, a hospital system affiliated with the private research university.


The Duke Cancer Institute was founded in 1971, but the history of the Duke University Medical Center goes back much further. The medical center was founded in 1930 after a $4 million bequest from James B. Duke, a tobacco and textile industrialist who is the namesake for the university. The Duke University Hospital opened its doors on July 21, 1930, filling 17 of its 400 beds on its first day of operations. The medical school and hospital were renamed in 1957 as the Duke University Medical Center.

A number of “firsts” have been accomplished at the medical center throughout its history. In 1936, a surgeon at Duke used ultraviolet light to kill germs in an operating room. The following year, the hospital founded the country’s first brain tumor program in the country, the beginning of what would eventually become the cancer center. In 1956, the hospital’s surgeons were the first to use systemic hypothermia during cardiac surgery. And in the 1990s, geneticists at the medical center invented a test to screen newborns for dozens of metabolic diseases at the same time; the test is now a standard throughout the country.

Construction projects throughout recent decades greatly expanded the capacity of the Duke University Medical Center; today, the center sprawls across 7.5 million square feet of space, occupying 90 buildings on a 210-acre campus. The medical center has ranked seventh in a list of the best medical centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Reports.

Mesothelioma Treatment at the Duke Cancer Institute

The Duke Cancer Institute strives to bring about scientific progress and bring discoveries from laboratories to hospitals as quickly as possible. They do so by bringing together hundreds of the country’s top cancer physicians, researchers, teachers and staff specializing in various specialties but united in one treatment center. Their success has been recognized by U.S. News & World Reports, which ranked the Duke Cancer Institute 11th in a list of top cancer hospitals in 2011. More than 50,000 cancer patients are seen at Duke each year, including 6,000 new cancer patients, who come to the hospital from every state in the United States and from countries around the world.

Mesothelioma is frequently treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, though cancer experts are always seeking advances that can make treatments more successful and easier on patients. At Duke’s Thoracic Oncology Program, researchers are undertaking a wide range of studies related to lung cancers, including pleural mesothelioma. For example, Duke is a leader in the use of a cutting-edge technique called photodynamic therapy, a treatment in which patients are given a light-activated drug that targets cancer cells.

Researchers at Duke are also interested in preserving a patient’s quality of life; one recent study seeks to preserve a patient’s senses of smell and taste throughout their treatments. Duke is also undergoing a joint study with the Nicholas School of the Environment to study the role that the environment plays on cancer, and has clinical and research partnerships with institutions in India, China, Singapore and across the United States.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari

Reviewer: Annette Charlevois

Patient Support Coordinator

Annette Charlevois

About Duke Cancer Institute

Duke Medical Center – Timeline

Duke Cancer Institute – Lung Cancer Research

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