Our Story | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse

Our Story

How we became a leading comprehensive cancer centre

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is an independent, comprehensive cancer centre that provides multidisciplinary and holistic cancer care for both public and private patients. We treat all cancers and specialise in those that are rare and complex.


Chris O’Brien’s unique vision

“Everyone needs hope. We live on hope.”

Professor Chris O’Brien AO
3rd Jan 1952-4th June 2009

Professor Chris O’Brien AO was an internationally-renowned head and neck surgeon and director of the Sydney Cancer Centre. He was widely recognised as a compassionate doctor by his patients and the wider Australian public thanks to the reality television program, RPA.

In 2006, Chris was himself diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. He transformed his personal adversity into a national opportunity by using his unique position as both doctor and patient to advocate strongly for a comprehensive cancer centre in NSW, where patients and their carers would no longer have to navigate through all the different elements of dealing with their illness alone.

Four years after his death, his vision was realised with the opening of the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to patients on 19th November 2013.

Learn more about Chris and his remarkable life, here.

Your comprehensive cancer centre

True to his vision, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is NSW’s only independent, comprehensive cancer centre and provides patient-centred, multidisciplinary and holistic cancer care for both public and private patients.

We treat all cancers and specialise in those that are rare and complex. We provide every treatment, service and support a person with cancer needs including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and supportive care services.

We are dedicated to providing holistic, uncompromising and compassionate care which has been shown to result in better outcomes for our patients.

Situated alongside our two key partners, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney, the hospital sees almost 60,000 patients every year for screening, diagnosis and treatment, using the most advanced treatment approaches and technology in a modern, purpose-built hospital.

With over 100 clinical trials and research projects underway at any time, Lifehouse is also NSW’s and one of Australia’s biggest cancer clinical trials centres, giving our patients access to the world’s newest cancer breakthroughs. Research and trials are carried out by the same clinicians who treat patients, shortening the path between discovery and new treatments.

Independent, inclusive and not for profit

Our model of care was developed to treat public and private patients, because we believe every person has the right to the best cancer care possible.

All revenue is reinvested and all donations are used to benefit our patients. Our board is self-governing and we have no shareholders.

Lifehouse Building

History of the site

We acknowledge and pay respect to the tradition owners of the land on which Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is built: the Gadigal people of the Eora nation.

The ground on which the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse now stands has been long associated with providing specialist health services, beginning in 1880 with the construction of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH), one of the state’s oldest hospitals, which opened in 1882.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse was once the location of the Page Chest Pavilion, a facility named after then Commonwealth Minister for Health, Sir Earle Page, and built as part of the Commonwealth drive to eradicate tuberculosis. After effective antibiotic treatment of TB had been introduced, the centre became a dedicated centre of excellence for heart surgery, where a team of cardiac specialists pioneered advances in surgical techniques in Australia.

By 2003, all surgical services of the Page Chest Pavilion were transferred to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. The building was demolished in 2009, with work beginning on the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

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