Smilow Cancer Hospital is the most comprehensive cancer care facility in New England. consolidating Yale-New Haven's inpatient and outpatient cancer services into a single world-class cancer hospital. In HealthLINK:Cancer, some of the field's foremost experts in diagnosis and care come together to bring you their unique perspectives on cancer issues.


November 2009

Smilow: Not a hospital for cancer
— a hospital for people with cancer

Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven — a partnership between Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale School of Medicine and Yale Cancer Center — is the most comprehensive cancer care facility in New England. The building consolidates Yale-New Haven's inpatient and outpatient cancer services into a single world-class cancer hospital, with a specialized women's cancer center, as well as dedicated floors for diagnostic radiology and radiation oncology.

Smilow Cancer Hospital provides the very best cancer care available, bringing together some of the nation's best minds to develop new methods to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

An interview with
the physician-in chief

Thomas Lynch Jr., physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital at and director of Yale Cancer Center.

Premier clinical care
Yale-New Haven Hospital treats more cancer patients than any other hospital in Connecticut. A team from one of Smilow Cancer Hospital's 12 cancer programs meets to discuss each patient's diagnosis and therapy options, resulting in the development of a unique, comprehensive treatment plan for each patient that can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, a combination of treatments or conservative monitoring. Smilow offers the latest in screening and diagnosis, genetic counseling, treatment, psychosocial support, pain management, rehabilitation and long-term, follow-up care. In addition, patients at Smilow Cancer Hospital often have the opportunity to take advantage of clinical trials that are not available at most hospitals in the region.

"One of our goals at Smilow Cancer Hospital is to find new drugs and treatments that will become the standard of care for patients throughout our region and our country," said Thomas J. Lynch, Jr., MD, physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven and director of Yale Cancer Center. "There are exciting breakthroughs happening right now at Yale School of Medicine and Yale Cancer Center that are being translated to direct patient care at Smilow Cancer Hospital."

Looking to the future
Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven will continue to build on the rich scientific tradition of Yale Cancer Center by expanding clinical trials and developing a clinical program that will provide molecular profiling services to enable targeted therapies. In addition, Yale Cancer Center is establishing a new cancer biology institute at Yale's 136-acre West Campus in West Haven, Connecticut, which will focus on research in the fields of cell signaling, cancer immunology and drug development. These investments and programs are expected to bring additional new treatments to patients at Smilow Cancer Hospital over the next few years.

An interview with  Thomas J. Lynch Jr., MD

How will the new Smilow Cancer Hospital impact cancer care?

I expect Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven will immediately start to change the landscape of clinical cancer care in Connecticut and New England. I would like Smilow to become known for its compassionate patient- and family-centered care, for personalized cancer therapy and for its multidisciplinary team approach to cancer treatment.

Because cancer is probably the most earth-shattering event to happen to a person, the most important thing we can provide is compassionate care. We will have the finest facility anywhere and the necessary resources to support patients with cancer and their families.

Smilow Cancer Hospital is organized around a multidisciplinary team approach to patient care with 12 cancer programs to care for patients with various types of cancer. Each of these cancer programs is affiliated with Yale Cancer Center. All the specialists and support staff are brought together in a team to develop an individualized medical approach for every patient.

Smilow is an ideal size to support teams of practicing physicians collaborating with researchers and to develop "personalized medicine" that will improve the odds for cancer patients in Connecticut and beyond.

What is personalized medicine?

I have a special interest in personalized medicine — customized care in which a treatment plan is developed for each patient based on the individual patient's specific characteristics, including age, gender, height, weight, diet, environment and family history, as well as the patient's specific tumor type. Personalized medicine — which is currently in use at Yale-New Haven and will continue to expand — in its most basic form in cancer, is about getting the right drug to the right patient and designing a treatment based on both the patient's underlying characteristics and the tumor's underlying characteristics. In the past, we gave drugs broadly to patients with cancer, but recently we have learned that if you give drugs more specifically to targeted groups of patients you can improve outcomes.

While no one can say when we will cure cancer, we are more certain than ever that a cure for cancer is possible. The revolution in genetics that allows the precise characterization of genes that are abnormal in a cancer cell combined with the advances in targeting these abnormalities with new drugs gives us a roadmap to cure cancer—hopefully within our time.

With Smilow now open, we will begin to become nationally known for our expertise in personalized cancer therapy, using molecular profiling to match therapy to the genetic signature of the patient's tumor, as well as a commitment to quality, safety and outcomes measurement.

Yale Cancer Center is an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center. What does that means and how does it fit into the scope of what you are trying to accomplish?

Patients in Connecticut are fortunate to live near a federally designated cancer center. Yale Cancer Center is one of only 41 in the nation. When the NCI created the first eight comprehensive cancer centers in 1971, Yale's was among them. It is a collaborative venture between Yale School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital, a partnership that enables the center to provide the newest advances and best approaches for the detection, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

You spent a great part of you career focusing on clinical translational research. What is it and how do you see your arrival in New Haven enhancing and building on the clinical translational research efforts at Yale Cancer Center?

Translational research is research that builds upon findings in the laboratory and brings in patients. Yale has always been a strong scientific institution with terrific depth and background in the laboratory. It's also a terrific cancer care facility with outstanding doctors and nurses at Yale-New Haven Hospital. What a lot of cancer centers are looking for is the ability to bring the two together in a translational research platform and that's my goal for the coming years for both Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital.

I came to New Haven specifically because of Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale's West Campus. Smilow is an absolutely fabulous facility. I'm a big believer in cutting-edge research and in quality, safety and outcomes measurement — but the pursuit of clinical excellence is the most important component of any cancer center and a top priority for us at Smilow.

Thomas J. Lynch, Jr., MD, is physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven and director of Yale Cancer Center.

Our Physicians

Use our online tool to find a doctor