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New Ulm Medical Center

Oncologist brings passion with him to position at New Ulm Medical Center

Oncologist Ettore Piroso, MD, doesn't believe that being an oncologist is just a career or even a calling – it is a passion. "I don't believe you can work in oncology without having a passion for it,” Piroso said.

That passion has led him on an extraordinary journey from his childhood in Argentina, to becoming a physician in the United States and helping to launch cancer centers and innovative programs to help cancer patients to his latest adventure into the mid-west. Piroso started seeing patients at the New Ulm Medical Center's oncology department in mid-May.

Dr. Piroso's work at NUMC is the only outreach he will be doing as an oncologist for the Mankato Clinic through an arrangement between the two medical facilities.

Piroso, who is board-certified in hematology, oncology and internal medicine, was born in Italy and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He completed medical school at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina Medical School in 1977. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, and then went on to a Fellowship in hematology/oncology at Thomas Jefferson University, also in Philadephia.

For Dr. Piroso, his work in oncology is an extension of his philosophy on life. "It's all about helping people. You can look for many sophisticated definitions of medicine, but what it all comes down to is helping people,” he said. "Oncology is more than what you just read in a book. You have to let your patients know you care about them. It all comes down to how you feel about life – helping others experience it the same way you are experiencing it. If you are happy and love life it will affect those around you every day.”

It is this kind of thinking that led Piroso to create innovative ways of helping his oncology patients. Years ago Dr. Piroso founded the World Oncology Network when he was working at his first practice in Florida. "I saw many patients coming through our clinic who were traveling from other countries and were receiving treatment in their hometown and needed some sort of treatment during their trip,” Piroso explained. The World Oncology Network was born out of a need to assist in the care of patients traveling abroad. The not-for-profit network has over 2,000 oncologists and hematologists in over 80 countries.

"The second goal was also to provide a network of resources for oncologists and hematologists working in other countries where the resources are not as easily accessible as they are here in the United States,” Piroso explained. "When doctors are able to talk to each other, they teach and they learn.”

Another program that Piroso started while in Florida was called "Learn While you Heal,” which involved donations of foreign language education tapes so that patients could listen and learn a foreign language during their chemo treatments. "The idea was that when you come for chemo and have to sit for six hours, if you have to really focus as you do when learning something new like a foreign language, then the time flies,” Piroso said.

Piroso and his wife have three children: Melina, 28, who lives in California; Juliette, 24, a pre-medical student in Colorado; and Steven, 21, who will attend Minnesota State University – Mankato.