Samuel Hellman, MD
As a trailblazer who helped breast cancer treatment evolve from radical mastectomy to the judicious use of radiation therapy with limited tumor removal, Samuel Hellman, MD, is considered one of the world’s premier radiation oncologists.
“I think I made a real contribution to breast cancer treatment, but it was more political by engaging in the academic debate than it was in making a discovery or inventing the treatment,” Hellman said in a 2002 interview that the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) conducted as part of its efforts to document the history of radiation oncology. He also began writing up case studies of patients who had been treated more conservatively, which attracted wide interest after being published in peer-reviewed journals.
Leading the Way
Hellman has spent decades as a pioneer in radiation oncology. After his postgraduate medical training at Yale and in Great Britain, he established the first Department of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School in 1970, a feat he considers one of his greatest contributions to the field. He was the founding professor and director of Harvard’s Joint Center for Radiation Therapy and was appointed the Alvan T. and Viola D. Fuller-American Cancer Society Professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Therapy.
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