Northern New Hampshire’s role as a center for medical research and patient care dates back to 1797, the year that Dartmouth College established its medical school. In order for the students to receive practical training, the 36-bed Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital was completed in 1893. In 1927, the staff formed the Hitchcock Clinic to provide multi-specialty patient care. These three entities, along with the Veterans Administration Hospital in White River Junction, Vermont, would eventually comprise the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, home of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center.
The Norris Cotton Cancer Center is largely the result of the vision and persistence of two men, Dr. Frank W. Lane and Senator Norris Cotton. As director of the Radiation Therapy Department at Mary Hitchcock Hospital during the 1960s, Dr. Lane recognized the need for a first-class cancer facility to treat patients from rural northern New England who might be unable or unwilling to make the long trip to Boston for their care. Dr. Lane secured funds to purchase advanced radiation therapy equipment, but was unable to raise the cost of building construction until Senator Cotton took up the cause. In his role on the Department of Health, Education and Welfare’s Appropriations Subcommittee, the Senator obtained a $3 million appropriation from the National Cancer Institute to fund a new cancer facility at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital.
The Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire is a multidisciplinary cancer care and research facility. In addition to its main campus, the center has four regional facilities and twelve affiliated hospitals in New Hampshire and Vermont. As one of 70 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute, Norris Cotton Cancer Center provides interdisciplinary team-based patient care, conducts a range of scientific and clinical cancer research, and sponsors classes and other educational opportunities. For more than 30 consecutive years, the center has received $3.1 million in core research funding from the National Cancer Institute annually.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is one of several locations where patients can receive care through Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Mesothelioma patients seeking treatment at Dartmouth-Hitchcock are treated through the Lung/Esophageal/Thoracic Cancer Program.
Norris Cotton Cancer Center uses a team-based approach to treatment, including thoracic surgeons, chest radiologists, palliative care specialists, nutritionists and many more. Patients will have access to specialized thoracic surgery, thoracic radiation oncology, a large interventional pulmonology service, specialized gastroenterology, new treatments and clinical trials, thoracic pathology services and specialized thoracic medical oncology. The center also offers lung screenings for patients who may be at risk for lung cancer and mesothelioma, allowing for earlier detection. Norris Cotton Cancer Center’s more than 200 cancer specialists and 90 oncology nurses together treat more than 31,000 patients annually, while the center’s more than 135 researchers are involved in basic cancer research, clinical trials and cancer prevention research.
In addition to standard cancer treatments, mesothelioma patients can also utilize support groups, classes and complementary care through Dartmouth-Hitchcock, such as massage therapy and reiki.
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