Many people, regardless of their age or current health status, equate the word “cancer” with death. Indeed, 50 years ago cancer was often viewed as a death sentence; there was little the medical profession could promise to a patient with a cancer diagnosis. While the fear of cancer still exists, we now know the disease takes many forms and responds well to many treatments, with some types treated similarly to a chronic disease. We also have ways of preventing certain cancers. We can thank researchers for all these advances. Nearly 40 percent of Americans are diagnosed with some type of cancer at some point in their lives, many of which are treatable.

As the leading provider of cancer care in Rhode Island and southeastern New England, Lifespan is committed to expanding services to each corner of our state. I am proud to say that the Lifespan Cancer Institute is making cancer care accessible – even convenient – for Rhode Islanders, with several locations as well as weekend hours. We hope this leads to earlier diagnoses and treatments, with the ultimate goals of curing more cancers, prolonging life, and restoring patients’ health.

We have assembled a multitude of resources in diagnostic tools and treatment options. Importantly, we also have attracted many world-class physicians in both pediatric and adult oncology, and the center’s ongoing research and technological innovations continue to attract national leaders in the cancer field.

Among these leaders is Wafik El-Deiry, MD, who now leads the Brown-Lifespan Joint Program in Cancer Biology. Dr. El-Deiry joins us from the Molecular Therapeutics Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center, where he was deputy director for translational research. He brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership experience, and we are excited to welcome him to Lifespan. Rishi Lulla, MD, is a top cancer specialist who leads pediatric hematology/oncology. His current focus is on translating laboratory findings into novel treatments for children with brain and spinal cord tumors.

Lifespan Cancer Institute researchers at The Miriam Hospital just received a $700,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to screen more Rhode Island smokers for cancer. In addition, our COBRE Center for Cancer Research Development (CCRD) is the only hospital-based center for cancer research in Rhode Island that is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Science research conducted at this center helps design and implement novel diagnostic and treatment protocols, which benefit patients at the Lifespan Cancer Institute and in the community at large.

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Lifespan Cancer Institute have a strategic alliance to advance cancer treatment and research. Together our two forces combine to ensure that every cancer patient in the region has access to unmatched clinical expertise. The alliance boasts several centers that remain unique in the region. One is the Brain and Spine Tumor Center, which is led by renowned specialists Heinrich Elinzano, MD, Timothy Kinsella, MD, and Ziya Gokaslan, MD, and is the only service of its kind in New England – one that is uniquely organized into specialized programs targeting specific tumor types.

The Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinics at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals are two of the first centers in New England to be accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. That success led us to further expand our Lifespan Cancer Institute practices to a location in East Greenwich, and soon one in Lincoln, offering promising new treatments in clinical trials.

In addition, our programs for gastrointestinal cancers – the most common cancers in the country – provide exceptional treatment. The Upper Gastrointestinal Multidisciplinary Clinic is the only one of its kind in the state: entirely dedicated to the compassionate care of patients with upper GI malignancies. This center, as well as the Thoracic Multidisciplinary Clinic and the Genitourinary Multidisciplinary Clinic, uses a team-based approach that brings together nationally recognized leaders in clinical research from multiple departments.

One of the reasons for the tremendous success in cancer treatment – and the consequent increase in the number of cancer survivors over the last few decades – is the technology that enables us to target treatments to a specific area. The Lifespan Cancer Institute uses the newest and most advanced technological methods: the BrainLab radiotherapy system for ultra-high precision in targeting and ablating tumors throughout the body; the TrueBeam linear accelerator system, which images the tumor before each treatment for maximum efficacy and minimal toxicity; AccuBoost, a very precise, guided, noninvasive breast brachytherapy system that targets breast tumors; AlignRT, used with the linear accelerator for sensitive and accurate positioning; the RayStation system, which maximizes the precision and safety of radiation therapy; Gamma Knife Perfexion, the most advanced, high-precision intracranial radiosurgery system in the world, which enables us to noninvasively eradicate brain tumors and treat neurofunctional disorders; and Cyberknife, a robotic linear accelerator with advanced motion-tracking technology for tumors at or near the spine.

We are committed to staying abreast of such technology, and our expert staff and physicians ensure that patients receive the earliest possible diagnoses, the highest quality cancer care available, and are treated with compassion. Patients at the Lifespan Cancer Institute work with staff members as they move from initial visit, to definitive diagnosis, to appropriate treatment, to rehabilitation that addresses the physical and emotional challenges of recovery.

The Lifespan Cancer Institute teams are aware of their significance and responsibility in a patient’s journey to regain health. They truly Deliver health with care for each individual patient, each and every day.

Timothy J. Babineau, MD

Timothy J. Babineau, MD

Prior to his appointment as Lifespan’s president and chief executive officer, Timothy Babineau, MD served as president and chief executive officer of Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital. Before coming to Rhode Island in 2008, he was the senior vice president and chief medical officer for the University of Maryland Medical Center and School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. Before the 2005 appointment at the University of Maryland, Dr. Babineau held numerous administrative positions, including vice chairman of the division of surgery, surgical residency program director and director of the center for minimally invasive surgery at Boston Medical Center and surgeon-in-chief and medical director for the Boston Medical Center Surgical Associates at Quincy Medical Center. He has been a trustee for the University of Massachusetts and a member of its Audit and Finance Committee.