Metro-East News

You can now get treatment for cancer at Siteman without having to go to St. Louis

Washington University School of Medicine has completed the big transition, combining the Cancer Treatment Center and Illinois Oncology Ltd. in Swansea and turning them into a satellite location of Siteman Cancer Center.

The center is expected to move into a new building on the Memorial Hospital East campus in Shiloh in early 2020. At both places, the idea is to keep Illinois residents from having to drive across the Mississippi River to see Siteman doctors and participate in their renowned clinical trials.

“When you can deliver the best care possible locally, it’s preferable,” said Dr. John F. DiPersio, Siteman’s deputy director and chief of oncology at the St. Louis medical school.

The Swansea location will be Siteman’s first in Illinois. The transition became official at the beginning of August, according to a press release.

Services initially will be provided by general medical and radiation oncologists, DiPersio said. They will be expanded to include doctors with sub-specialties such as breast, colon, pancreatic and lung cancer in the next three to five years.

“We try to extend our sub-specialty programs to the best of our ability at the satellites,” DiPersio said, noting patients with complicated cases who need specialized treatment could be referred to St. Louis.

Dr. John F. DiPersio is deputy director of Siteman Cancer Center and chief of oncology at Washington University School of Medicine, which operates the center with Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Provided

Memorial Hospital in Belleville opened Memorial East in 2016. The following year, Memorial bought out co-owner St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s share of the Cancer Treatment Center on North Illinois in Swansea. It also announced plans for a Siteman building, originally expected to open in late 2019.

In January, both Memorial hospitals became part of BJC Healthcare after a two-year “strategic alliance.”

In February, four oncologists in a practice called Illinois Oncology Ltd. — next door to the Cancer Treatment Center — became part of the Washington University medical school faculty. They are Dr. William J. Popovic, Dr. Alfred O. Greco, Dr. Guillermo Rodriguez Jr. and Dr. John L. Visconti.

“They are seasoned, established, veteran oncologists,” DiPersio said. “They’re really the cream of the crop on the Illinois side.”

The four medical oncologists will treat Siteman patients in Swansea, working alongside former Cancer Treatment Center radiation oncologists Dr. Susan Laduzinsky and Dr. Jason Lee and nurse practitioner Rhonda McCabe.

When the new Siteman building is completed at Memorial East, the center will vacate the space on North Illinois, DiPersio said.

“We’re happy to have them in Swansea for as long as they’re going to be here,” said mayor Mike Leopold. “They’re providing great health care in our community.”

Exam room
Patient Elizabeth Murphy consults with medical oncologist Dr. John L. Visconti at the new Siteman Cancer Center location in Swansea. Visconti formerly practiced with Oncology Ltd. Tim Parker

Siteman is headquartered on the Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine campuses in downtown St. Louis. Four other satellites are at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, Siteman Cancer Center South County and Siteman Cancer Center at Christian Hospital.

Siteman is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center within 275 miles of St. Clair County, according to the press release.

“An international leader in cancer care, Siteman was established in 1999 with a $35 million gift from Alvin J. and Ruth Siteman,” it stated. “Since then, it has grown to become one of the five largest cancer centers in the country based on the number of patients treated — 50,000 people each year.”