Our Story

Our Story


Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is Louisiana’s leading cancer care organization, caring for more patients each year than any other facility in the region. And with strategic hospital and physician partnerships, we are delivering on our mission to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer.

Mary Bird Perkins and its partners work together to provide state-of-the-art treatments and unparalleled collaborative, comprehensive cancer services. This culture of innovation helps attract the best cancer minds in the country, from expert physicians and highly specialized scientists to forward-thinking leaders in supportive care and other disciplines.

Together, with our hospital and physician partners, we are one-hundred percent focused on cancer care.


For 50 years, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center has delivered with compassion and excellence the most advanced cancer care available. Our mission is to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer through expert treatment, compassionate care, early detection, research and education.


In the late 1960s, sixteen community leaders headed by Dr. M.J. Rathbone, Jr. and Anna B. Lipsey saw the need for a community owned, nonprofit radiation cancer facility in the greater Baton Rouge area. With both the vision and financial support of the Baton Rouge community the Cancer Radiation and Research Foundation – now known as Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center – was established.

In 1968, the Foundation held a capital campaign capped by a generous gift of land from philanthropist Paul D. Perkins, whom he made in honor of his late daughter, Mary Bird. In 1971, the Mary Bird Perkins Radiation Treatment Center opened its doors in Baton Rouge. After 14 years of operation, in 1985, Mary Bird Perkins relocated to its present site on Essen Lane and installed the first linear accelerator in the state. The following year, in 1986, the name of the center was changed to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.

In 1988, the first satellite treatment center was opened in Hammond, followed by six more Centers in southeast Louisiana and Mississippi: Covington in 1998, Houma in 2008, Gonzales in 2009 and Natchez in 2019. In 2018, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Our Lady of the Lake and Woman’s Hospital opened the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion, now Woman’s Cancer Pavilion. 

From its inception, the mission of Mary Bird Perkins has been to provide the highest quality radiation therapy and compassionate support to all patients and their families. This commitment, created by the Center’s founders, has been generously supported year after year by the local community.

Today, Mary Bird Perkins is not only a leader in providing state-of-the-art radiation therapy across Louisiana and the Natchez, MS area, but it is also bringing screenings and early detection programs, education and research to its service areas. Through multiple innovative partnerships, Mary Bird Perkins is succeeding in its mission to fight cancer.

Mary Bird Perkins was and still remains a community initiative. It is through support from the community and partner organizations that the organization will successfully meet future challenges of providing patients with state-of-the-art technology and comprehensive community cancer care.



When the doors of this Cancer Center opened in early 2009, the breadth, scope and quality of services available to cancer patients in Ascension Parish were expanded. Today, the Cancer Center offers the most advanced cancer-fighting technology and vital on-site services including nutritional, social and survivorship services, early detection and outreach programs, as well as patient financial counseling.

This Center represents the forward-thinking, innovative efforts of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center to ensure advanced cancer care is available in local communities.


Since 1998, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center has provided cancer services to the Northshore community. In April 2012, the partnership took a significant step forward with the opening of the state-of-the-art Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Covington. 

The modern, comprehensive cancer facility provides the full spectrum of cancer care, from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. The Center’s services include medical oncology (chemo/immunotherapy), radiation therapy, imaging, clinical research trials, patient navigation, free community screenings, education and more. These services are readily available to Northshore residents where it matters most – close to family and just minutes from home.

Nationally accredited with commendation and recognized for excellence in cancer care by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Covington offers patients and families access to advanced technology and clinical expertise, along with compassion and individualized care. The Center’s experienced radiation oncologists, along with its team of medical physicists, utilize diagnostic and treatment technologies to their fullest extent to ensure the best outcome. For example the powerful Elekta Infinity linear accelerator allows for faster, more accurate treatments to target cancer and spare healthy tissue and organs. In addition, a full-service infusion suite provides safe, chemotherapy, immunotherapy treatments and other services. It is staffed by Northshore Oncology Associates’ medical oncologists and many caring chemo-certified nurses who are here to make treatments as comfortable as possible.

The Cancer Center occupies more than 20,000-square-feet and is adjacent to the St. Tammany hospital.


In 2008, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center formed a partnership with the hospital and Cancer Care Specialists. Each party had one goal in mind: to offer residents of the Bayou Region a comprehensive cancer center, close to home.

Since then, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Houma has grown and evolved to meet the needs of the community, but its mission has remained the same: to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer.

This mission is especially important in Louisiana – a state that suffers from high cancer mortality rates due to lack of access to care, delayed diagnosis and other factors.

As a comprehensive cancer facility, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Houma provides the full continuum of cancer care – from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship. The Center’s services include screening, mammography, education, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Clinical trials and patient navigators – nurses who guide patients through the treatment process – are available as well.

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Houma offers world-class diagnostic and treatment technology, including the Elekta Infinity linear accelerator. This leading-edge technology enable faster, more accurate treatments.

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Houma offers free cancer screenings, community education and support opportunities for cancer patients throughout the year. Residents of the Bayou Region can also get free cancer screenings though the Early Bird, a mobile medical clinic that helps bring early detection to the uninsured at times and locations that are convenient.

The new center – constructed by the McDonnel Group – is also the first building in the region and the first hospital in Louisiana to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification. And while these achievements are something to celebrate, the real focus of the new Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Houma is the patient.


In 2019, Caring River Cancer Center merged with Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center to expand its level of care for the Natchez region. Through this partnership, community residents and the surrounding areas have access to Mary Bird Perkins’ extensive early detection services, imaging technology and comprehensive treatment services.

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Natchez carries on the strong, rich legacy of Caring River Cancer Center while looking to the future to provide expert and individualized care to patients and their loved ones facing a cancer diagnosis.

Who was Mary Bird Perkins?


Generous, brilliant and reserved are terms most often used to describe Mary Bird Perkins. Born in 1927, Mary Bird was a pioneer of her time, becoming one of the first female graduates of the Louisiana State University Law Center in 1950. After practicing law for many years in Baton Rouge, she moved to Paris, a city she loved dearly, and lived there until 1966 when she passed away unexpectedly.

In 1969, her father, local businessman and philanthropist Paul D. Perkins, made a substantial capstone donation to build Baton Rouge’s first Radiation Treatment Center. Because of his generosity, the Cancer Center was named in Mary Bird’s honor.

Mary Bird’s forward-thinking approach to live lives on today through the Cancer Center’s physicians, staff, volunteers and donors, as we continually strive for excellence as the destination for cancer care in the Gulf South.

Awards & Accreditations

Nuclear Medicine American College of RadiologyMary Bird Perkins Cancer Center has been awarded a three-year term of reaccreditation in radiation oncology as the result of a review by the American College of Radiology (ACR). The Cancer Center has been reaccredited for its Baton Rouge, Gonzales, Hammond, Covington and Houma locations. The ACR seal of accreditation represents the highest level of quality and patient safety. It is awarded only to facilities meeting specific Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards developed by ACR after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified radiation oncologists and medical physicists who are experts in the field. Patient care and treatment, patient safety, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance programs are assessed.

The Commission on Medical Physics Education Programs (CAMPEP) has granted full reaccreditation to the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Medical Physics Residency Program. Mary Bird Perkins is the first center in Louisiana to establish such a program, helping provide highly specialized professionals to the workforce and enhanced care for cancer patients. Mary Bird Perkins has been accredited by CAMPEP since 2014.

accc award sealMary Bird Perkins Cancer Center was been named an Innovator Award recipient by the Association of Community Cancer Centers for the organization’s early detection program. Through the Innovator Award, organizations are recognized for their forward-thinking, pioneering solutions for the effective delivery of cancer care. Mary Bird’s early detection program is working to help reduce mortality especially among the uninsured and underinsured adults who are traditionally underserved and experience even higher rates of mortality than the general population.

Louisiana and Gulf South residents have more options to seek advanced cancer treatment, thanks to a $13.6 million National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) award. Presented to LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the NCORP grant focuses on conducting multi-site cancer clinical trials and cancer care delivery research studies in many Louisiana communities. Mary Bird Perkins, along with other partners, will work in partnership with LSU Health New Orleans, referred to collectively as the Gulf South Minority/Underserved NCI Community Oncology Research Program.

BBB torch award logo e1511899070727The Better Business Bureau of South Central Louisiana has named Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center a winner of the Douglas Manship, Sr. Torch Award for Ethics in Business. The Torch Award was established in 2001 to honor those businesses which exhibit the highest ethical standards of behavior toward customers, suppliers, users, shareholders, employees and the community.