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The one hundred honoree: Niall M. Heney, MB, MD

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The one hundred honoree: Niall M. Heney, MB, MD

Mass General Giving

Niall Heney, MB, MD, a pioneering urologist at the Mass General Cancer Center, has not only saved thousands of lives in a career spanning 50 years, but also has preserved the quality of life of countless cancer survivors through a groundbreaking therapy.

Dr. Heney was part of the team in the mid-1980s that developed a method of treating invasive bladder cancer using a tri-modal, bladder-preserving approach that combines limited surgery with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Initially one of only three institutions worldwide offering this treatment method, the Mass General Cancer Center reported promising results with its first cohort of patients. Those results have been confirmed in the decades since.

While immediate removal of the bladder remains the standard of care for many patients with invasive bladder cancer, for others the bladder-sparing treatment makes it easier to maintain an active lifestyle. James Fitzpatrick, who underwent tri-modal therapy and recovered fully from invasive bladder cancer, continues to be followed by Dr. Heney.

“It’s been 10 years since Dr. Heney broke the news about my diagnosis and told me my chances of recovery and keeping my bladder were very good, thanks to innovative treatment available at Mass General,” James says. “Each year, I am a little more relaxed while waiting for Dr. Heney to tell me everything looks fine. I once tried to thank him, and he said, ‘I’m not a one-man band,’ giving credit to the entire Mass General team for the great care I am so grateful for. His response shows how humble he is, despite all he has achieved.”