In Latvia, experience in the research and treatment of oncological diseases has been accumulated over a time period of more than 80 years, which guarantees an excellent quality of education for specialists in this field. As a result of qualification, modern equipment, methods, and a high level of examinations, Latvia’s oncological specialists are among the best in Europe. The Latvian Anti-Cancer
Association has been working for more than 80 years, while the scientific association of oncologists exists in our country for more than 60 years.
The founding father of clinical oncology in Latvia, Professor Pauls Stradins established the first oncological hospital in Latvia in 1939 in Riga. In tandem with the scientific discoveries of that time, as regards medicament therapy of malignant tumors, the Professor established Latvia’s first chemotherapy department for oncological patients as part of a surgical clinic in 1957. In 1963, a specialized radiology department (radioisotope diagnosis and radiation therapy) was created at the Pauls Stradins Hospital and was led by Dr. Arija Katlapa. On November 18th of that same year, the first patient was irradiated using the „LUČ” gamma ray therapy device, the first of its kind to be constructed in Latvia and manufactured in the „Latvenergo” factory.
In 1979, instruction of Riga Medical Institute (nowadays – Riga Stradins University) students began at the newly established Oncology Department at the Republic’s Oncological Dispensary. Riga Stradins University is the only university in Latvia that has traditionally been closely integrated in the health care system, creating foundations for successful work of Latvia’s medical institutions. Today, the ten departments of Riga Stradins University offer bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, professional, and continuing education programs, while medical physics is taught at Riga Technical University. Students from all over the world come to Latvia to be educated in the medical profession, in order to later return to their own countries as specialists in their profession.
A specialized hospital for oncological patients began work in 1984 in Riga, a radiogynecology department opened its doors a year later, in 1986 – a head and neck surgical department, while a radioisotope diagnostics laboratory began its work in 1987. In 1993, the existing united oncological institutions were renamed as the Oncology Center of Latvia with its central clinic in Riga and two oncological hospitals in Daugavpils and Liepaja. Since 2007, the Oncology Center of Latvia is a part of the Riga East University Hospital, and SRC Sigulda specialists also practice there. Following along with the development of medical technology, new examination and treatment technologies are implemented at the Oncology Center of Latvia: three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy was implemented in clinical practice in 2001, intensity modulated radiation therapy in 2003, radiation therapy synchronized with breathing in 2006, image-guided radiation therapy and stereotactic radiation therapy (radiosurgery) with the „Novalis TX” linear accelerator in 2009.
Meanwhile, in February of 2010, P. Stradins University Hospital unveiled the renovated hospital building that now houses the Oncology clinic with its new radiation therapy equipment – a high-definition linear accelerator with multi-leaf collimator. This location offers in-patient services, out-patient services, examination, as well as radiation therapy under one roof.
These and other achievements testify to the high level of professionalism of Latvia’s oncologists, radiologists therapists, and scientists in this field. It is also the main reason why so many foreign medical institutions want to see specifically Latvia’s oncology specialists among their group of colleagues.