Boston VA Medical Center

The Hematology/Oncology Section at the VA Boston Healthcare System has an extensive program of patient care, education, and research with a staff consisting of eleven staff physicians, four hematology/ Oncology fellows, and six oncology nurse clinicians. It is designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Treatment Center in VISN 1. Patient referrals come from Bedford, Newington, North Hampton, Providence, Manchester, and Togus V.A.s, as well as the Causeway Street, Framingham and Lowell outpatient clinics.


Each of the specialty clinics are conducted under the supervision of staff physicians. Each patient is assigned one primary attending physician to ensure continuity of care. Most patients are also followed by one of the Hematology/Oncology Fellows. Hematology and/or Oncology clinics are held Monday through Friday, including daily outpatient treatments and procedures. Most of the patients are treated in the outpatient setting. In calendar year 2006, an average of 290 patients per month were treated, with a total of 180 new patients treated. During the past calendar year there were approximately 13,800 clinic visits.


Various clinical and basic science research projects are being performed by several members of the Section. Dr. Daniel Jacobson, chief of oncology at the V.A., leads a laboratory research program with interests in amyloidosis and in the cell biology of lymphoma. Drs. Mary Brophy, Louis Fiore, Gary Gilbert, and Kenneth Bauer conduct studies in the area of anticoagulation. Drs. Fiore and Brophy lead the Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC).  Dr. Nikhil Munshi maintains an active research program in multiple myeloma.  Dr. Jacobson also heads the section’s oncology clinical trials program, in which Drs. Valia Boosalis and Carlos Vera also actively participate as principal investigators of clinical studies in prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer.


Oncology staff physicians regularly attend various multi-disciplinary tumor conferences including the ENT Tumor Board, Pulmonary Tumor Board, General Surgery Tumor Conference and Genitourinary Tumor Board. Each new patient consultation to the section is promptly seen by a fellow and attending physician, and each patient is discussed. Staff members are regularly invited to the residents’ Morning Report to discuss oncologic management issues and staff members also participate in the education of the entire medical staff by lecturing at Medical Grand Rounds. In addition, there is a weekly Oncology Grand Rounds held, which features noted experts, both locally and nationally, lecturing on various topics in Oncology and Hematology.

Making hospice available to terminal patients is a priority of the section. Palliative care is an interest of Dr. Michelle Hankins, and she often lectures to the medical staff on topics in this area.  A multi-disciplinary committee discusses ways to improve delivery of this service to these patients. Through the efforts of this committee, the nursing staff and house staff are knowledgeable in obtaining hospice services for patients needing them. Members of the committee, including the oncology nurses, are available to assist staff members with questions to facilitate appropriate and timely referrals.

For more information, please visit the Boston VA Healthcare System website.