Hospital founded by surgeon after his wife died from cancer


Last updated at 01:12 03 January 2008

The Royal Marsden sees more than 40,000 patients a year.

It was founded by the distinguished surgeon William Marsden following the death from cancer of his wife Elizabeth-Ann.

He started the Free Cancer Hospital in Cannon Row, Westminster, in 1851.

By 1856 a greenfield site was earmarked for expansion and in 1862 the original part of the current hospital in Fulham Road, Chelsea, was completed.

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The Free Cancer Hospital was granted a Royal Charter in 1910 by King George V and renamed the Royal Marsden in honour of its founder in

It has gone from strength to strength, with 320 beds and more than 500 nursing staff caring for patients with many forms of cancer, including rare and unusual tumours.

Throughout the 20th century Marsden's legacy grew as the hospital, along with its academic partner The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), jointly discovered that cigarette smoke was carcinogenic.

In the 1950s the first forms of chemotherapy were developed there and the discovery in 1996 of the faulty gene BRCA2, which causes some forms of hereditary breast cancer, was one of many gene breakthroughs.

Princess Diana supported a multi-million-pound appeal in the early 1990s which resulted in a new clinical block in Chelsea and the Wolfson Children's Cancer Unit at the hospital's sister site in Sutton, Surrey.

In 2004 the Royal Marsden became one of the first Foundation hospitals in the NHS - a move designed to increase administrative and financial freedom to capitalise on a world-class reputation for treatment and research.

In November 2006, along with the ICR, it was designated the UK's only Biomedical Research Centre for Cancer.

In October it was awarded the highest possible NHS ranking for the second year in a row - a double-excellent for quality of services and use of resources.