Nothing puts time into perspective like a cancer diagnosis.

At Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, we’re moving cancer care forward. Because we know each breakthrough gives our patients more time for the moments that matter most. It’s a momentum we carry not only in our research, but in everything we do – from the design of our facility to our highly specialized teams.

Being part of an academic health system allows us be at the forefront of the next medical breakthrough. And with each new discovery, we’re able to give our patients the comfort of knowing they’re getting the advanced care they need, with the best care possible.

Tom was told he had nine months. It's been 20 years.

Diagnosed with a grade 4 brain tumor, Tom and his team at Ellis Fischel used the hope of "one day more" to move cancer care forward. Watch his story below.

How Far We’ve Come

We’re proud of our history and how far we’ve come to provide our patients with the most advanced cancer care. But we’re not done. Thanks to precision medicine and the upcoming opening of our NextGen Precision Health Institute, our doctors and researchers will continue their leading-edge research looking at each patient’s genetics, lifestyle and environment to offer the most effective treatment options and cures.

Ellis Fischel milestones Cancer treatment and technology Cancer care milestones

1940s

1940
Ellis Fischel State Hospital opens

with latest cancer treatment (surgery, radiation and X-ray), a floor dedicated to clinical research labs and the Midwest’s largest supply of radium (few hospitals met the strict standards for stocking radium)

1941
Hormonal therapy is discovered

(prostate cancer)

1943
First electron linear accelerator

for radiation therapy

1947
First ever remission

using chemotherapy (pediatric leukemia)

1949
First FDA-approved chemotherapy

drug, nitrogen mustard

1950s

1950
Smoking linked to lung cancer
1951
First patient to be treated with cobalt-60 radiation
1956
First complete cure of human solid tumor

(choriocarcinoma) using chemotherapy

1957
Ellis Fischel adds $100,000 cobalt therapy wing
1958
Combination chemotherapy

leads to partial and complete remission (acute leukemia)

1960s

1960
Ellis Fischel becomes one of 30

hospitals to test various chemo drugs

1960
First fully rotational linear accelerator

(Clinac-6) is introduced 

1960
Philadelphia chromosome is discovered

and linked to 95 percent of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia

1964
First virus linked to cancer

Epstein-Barr virus (EBL)

1965
First high-success combination chemotherapy

(MOPP – advanced Hodgkin lymphoma)

1966
MU’s nuclear reactor begins producing radioisotopes

for research and clinical applications

1970s

1970
Radioactive “seeds”

implanted in prostate (brachytherapy) shown to extend lives versus surgical removal of prostate

1971
Modified radical mastectomy is introduced

as more limited procedure and becomes available at Ellis Fischel

1974
Researchers perform first CT scan on patients
1975
Three-story addition to Ellis Fischel

with expanded lab space and new OR suite

1975
Ellis Fischel adds Sagittaire linear accelerator,

one of only four in the U.S

1975
Adjuvant therapy,

chemo after surgery, has success with early breast cancer, sets stage for others

1979
TP53 gene is discovered,

the most commonly mutated gene in cancer 

1980s

1981
FDA approves first cancer vaccine

to prevent cancer-causing hepatitis B and becomes available at Ellis Fischel 

1984
HER2 gene discovered

for breast cancer 

1984
HPV linked to cervical cancer
1985
Clinical trials of lumpectomy paired with radiation

shows similar survival rates versus mastectomy alone for women with early-stage breast cancer

1986
FDA approves PSA

(prostate-specific antigen) test to screen for prostate cancer and becomes available at Ellis Fischel 

1988
MU reactor awarded approval for Ceretec,

first commercial radiopharmaceutical to fight cancer 

1989
First gene therapy clinical trials

1990s

Early 1990s
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is developed
1990
First FDA-approved immunotherapy treatment

(Bacillus Calmette-Guerin cancer vaccine)

Throughout 1990s
Ellis Fischel researchers play leading role

in Tamoxifen clinical trial for breast cancer prevention 

1990
Ellis Fischel merges with University of Missouri
1990
Ellis Fischel adds dual beam linear accelerator
1992
Ellis Fischel rents van to start mobile mammography services
1994
BRCA1 gene discovered

and linked to increased risk of breast cancer

1995
BRCA2 gene discovered

and linked to increased risk of breast cancer

1997
Ellis Fischel purchases their own MammVan
1997
MU reactor awarded approval for second radiopharmaceutical,

Quadramet, to relieve pain caused by bone cancer

1997
FDA approves first-ever molecularly targeted cancer drug,

rituximab; first antibody treatment 

1997
BRCA1 and BRCA2 research

helps certain women reduce risk of breast cancer by 90 percent

1998
Doctors begin using intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

to target tumors close to the organs 

1998
Neoadjuvant therapy,

chemo before surgery, clinical trial helps women undergo lumpectomy instead of full mastectomy

1998
FDA approves Tamoxifen

for breast cancer prevention, thanks in part to Ellis Fischel clinical trials

2000s

2000
MU reactor releases TheraSphere

to carry radiation to the liver

2000
MU receives $10 million grant

from NCI to establish premier center for developing radiopharmaceuticals

2004
Ellis Fischel is designated as the state’s official cancer center
2004
FDA approves first anti-angiogenic drug,

bevacizumab, to block growth of blood vessels tumors need to grow 

2006
FDA approves Gardasil

vaccination against HPV and becomes available at Ellis Fischel

2008
Ellis Fischel adds Trilogy Tx linear accelerator
2009
FDA approves Ceravix,

the second vaccination of HPV and becomes available at Ellis Fischel

2010s

2010
FDA approves first cancer treatment vaccine

that uses a patient’s own immune system and becomes available at Ellis Fischel

2012
Ellis Fischel adds 3D mammography

to screen for breast cancer

2013
MU researcher receives national medal of science

Frederick Hawthorne, PhD, receives award for developing boron neutron capture therapy for cancer patients

2017
First gene cancer therapy,

chimeric antigen receptor modified T-cell (CAR-T) causes complete remission for majority of young patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) 

2018
Cervical cancer breakthrough

MU School of Medicine researchers discover combining blueberry extract with radiation can increase the treatment’s effectiveness for cervical cancer