Over the years, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) has treated countless residents of Westchester and Fairfield counties at its renowned hospital in Manhattan.
By Paul Hicks
Over the years, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) has treated countless residents of Westchester and Fairfield counties at its renowned hospital in Manhattan. Now, there is a new MSK treatment center at 500 Westchester Avenue in Harrison, which will allow patients in our area to receive state-of-the-art cancer care at a more convenient location.
When the plans for the Harrison location were announced in 2011, MSK officials noted that almost 13 percent of its patients were from the Hudson Valley and western Connecticut. In addition, 71 percent of MSK’s ambulatory cancer care patients from Westchester used its facilities in Manhattan. Officials further noted that, “with an increasing incidence of cancer, especially as the population ages, as well as advances in early detection and treatment, more patients are surviving longer and will need continued care closer to home.”
The Harrison outpatient facility is staffed by more than 35 doctors and multidisciplinary care teams whose sole focus is on cancer treatment. Its website advertises that “patients will benefit from access to personalized medicine, cutting-edge clinical trials, and cancer care for the whole patient, all offered under one roof.” These services include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgical consultations, and diagnostic tests, as well as clinical trials and support services such as genetic counseling.
When the Harrison campus opened October 6, it became the latest in an expanding group of MSK suburban outpatient treatment centers, joining earlier ones that are operating in New Jersey and Long Island as well as in Rockville Centre. MSK has stated that it intends to maintain its medical and radiation oncology services at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow on the Hudson River.
MSK is also initiating a new advertising campaign, which, according to Adweek, seeks to reinforce its preeminence in cancer care while also creating a different way to deal with the public concerns about cancer. One of its succinct messages is “More science, less fear.” Another is “By changing the way the world treats cancer, we can change the way the world thinks about it.”
Throughout its 130-year history, MSK has addressed fears surrounding cancer. Its founding in 1884 was due to the refusal of an offer from Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Astor to build a cancer pavilion at the New York Woman’s Hospital. Among the reasons for the board’s decision was the widespread fear at the time that cancer was contagious.
The Astors then worked with their attorney, John E. Parsons (a native of Rye), to establish a hospital that was initially called the New York Cancer Hospital and later renamed Memorial Hospital for the Treatment of Cancer and Allied Diseases. Parsons, who was president from its founding until his death in 1915, was instrumental in gaining two major gifts for the hospital. The first, received in 1902, established the Collis P. Huntington Fund, the first cancer research fund in the country. The second, made by James Douglas in installments between 1912 and 1918, assured that the hospital would be operated exclusively for cancer care.
Details about the Harrison outpatient treatment center can found on the MSK website (www.mskcc.org/videos/msk-west-harrison). If you are browsing the website, take a look at the four-minute video in which doctors and staff members describe the care and services offered. You can take a virtual tour of the facility to see the attractive interior design and wooded setting near the Westchester campus of Fordham University.
There is also information on the website about the MSK’s commitment to the surrounding communities, as exemplified in brief profiles of six doctors who are Westchester residents. Among them are Dr. Chau T. Dang of Harrison, Chief of the Harrison Oncology Service, as well as urologic surgeon Dr. Karim A. Touijer and Dr. Nabil Rizk, a lung cancer specialist, both of whom live in Rye.
Services that MSK Harrison plans to offer the community include cancer support groups and educational events for community members and healthcare professionals, as well as quality-of-life and survivorship programs for patients and their caregivers. Anyone who is interested in participating in a health and wellness initiative in the community or to request an MSK guest speaker is invited to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.