Coborn Cancer Center: Offering comfort and hope
From Spotlight on Health July/Aug. 2008
The cancer program at St. Cloud Hospital began in 1970 with the arrival of
oncologist Harold Windschitl, M.D.
In those early days, cancer inpatients were
placed on regular medical units; there was
no designated oncology unit.
Chemotherapy was given in one small
room at the clinic. Nurses, not
pharmacists, calculated, mixed and
administered chemo medications.
In 1977, Windschitl, who practiced with
the St. Cloud Clinic of Internal Medicine,
and Nicholas Reuter, M.D., St. Cloud
Medical Group, worked with the North
Central Cancer Treatment Group
(NCCTG) based at the Mayo Clinic in
Rochester, to expand St. Cloud’s cancer
It has been growing ever since.
“In the late 1970s and early 1980s, many
types of cancer had dismal prognoses, and
the chance of relapsing was often higher
than the chance of remission,” said Deb
Hall, R.N., one of the first oncology
certified nurses at St. Cloud Hospital.
(Hall is now the director of St. Cloud
Hospital Women & Children’s Center
“Amazing progress was made in the 1980s
through regional cancer research programs
such as the NCCTG. It was incredibly
rewarding to be part of this rapid change
in treatment, transitioning from offering
comfort, to offering hope,” Hall said.
Today, the cancer program encompasses
five medical oncologists, three radiation
oncologists and 218 staff, spanning
inpatient and outpatient services. The
program is accredited as a Comprehensive
Community Cancer Program by the
Commission on Cancer. In April 2008,
the commission recognized the cancer
program with its highest award for
Drs. Windschitl and Reuter, oncologists
with the Coborn Cancer Center in
St. Cloud, have seen a lot of changes over
the decades and have much hope for the
future of cancer patients.
Windschitl stressed the importance of
collaborative cancer research.
“Cancer professionals work together
around the world sharing data about
improved cancer care,” he said. “If we
don’t work together, we don’t learn
anything. Together, we can make a
difference in the lives of cancer patients.”
Reuter notes that “medications have
improved so much and there are so many
more to choose from than just a few years
back. Because of all the clinical research
and studies that go on, cancer patients are
living longer and are more comfortable
while they combat their disease.”
Cancer patients today are not only
surviving cancer but are thriving, thanks
to services like the Cancer Survivorship
Network at Coborn Cancer Center.
The Survivorship Network provides
information and services to those whose lives have been changed by cancer,
offering access to spiritual, psychological,
social and physical resources.
History of Cancer
Cancer has afflicted humans since the beginning of civilization. Some
of the earliest evidence of cancer was found among fossilized bone
tumors, human mummies in ancient Egypt and ancient manuscripts
that date back to approximately 1600 B.C.
Learn more about Coborn Cancer Center.
Learn more about the Coborn Cancer Center Survivorship Network.