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The SHATO is only one of the oncology hospitals network in Bulgaria. It was established in the early fifties of the last century. In a document by the Ministry of Health dated 1951 with the title ” Instruction for organization and methodology of fight against cancer diseases” we find the following citation:
“One of the main targets of healthcare is the implementation of an organized systematic fight against cancer diseases” on the basis of  “the principles of public and personal prophylaxis…” “The implementation of these principles is devoted and performed by a network of special treatment-prophylactic health centers – the Oncology Institute in Sofia and the regional oncology centers throughout the country....”.
Act № А-85/5.ІХ.1958  by the Health Minister G.Galabov says:

“To be able to succeed in the fight against cancer, as well as to implement it in all the Centers a common methology of diagnostics, treatment and prophylaxis of various cancer types – these specialized oncology centers were created”.

Nowadays, the specialized oncology network encompasses 12 Regional Oncology Centers (Dispanceries) and a „Diagnostic-consultancy centers” at the University Hospital in Pleven town, which functions as a regional center; as well as the SHATO in Sofia. This established network of specialized oncology centers was criticized throughout the years and debated with the aim to be rearranged. But it survived - thanks to the effort of all the specialists and professionals who work in it, as well as the lack of alternative structure capable of demonstrating capability of such complex function and activities.

SHATO has a long history that could be divided in several stages. It starts in 1936 when the first Anticancer Center was established. With its 50 beds only, it was part of the Radiology Institute at the Medical University – Sofia. Here was the initiation of Rd radiotherapy in Bulgaria. In 1950 the Center was transformed into “Oncology Institute for Science and Research” (НИОИ), which in 1951 was transferred to the created soon before that “Institute for Specialization and CME of physicians” (ИСУЛ). The director at that time was Prof. Gotse Tenchov. In 1952 as part of its structure was created the Scientific-organizational section with the head Prof. Popov, which represents the present branch of SHATO – the National Cancer Registry (НРР).
The institute was established as the leading Center for diagnostics and  treatment of malignant tumors, as well as center for specialization and further qualification of Bulgarian specialists in Oncology. In 1957 the Center was moved to its present premises in the district “Darvenitsa” - Sofia with 265 beds and an experimental sector with laboratories for R&D.
The Director of the National Institute of Oncology till 1962 was prof. Veselin Mihailov. He created the Society of Oncologist in Bulgaria. His successors are Prof. N. Anchev from 1962 – 1971 and Prof. G. Mitrev 1971 - 1987.
In time were created main Departments at the Hospital for diagnostics, treatment, science and research. We should not forget the names of our world-recognized oncology specialists, most of them having been the heads of their Department, Clinics and Sectors: Prof. Krastev was the head of the Surgery Clinic, Prof Kirov – head of the Mammology sector, Prof. Dudunkov – head of the Coloproctology sector. Head of the Pathology was Prof. R.Raichev, Cytology sector -  Prof. Tsanev.  Head of the Medical Oncology clinic was Prof, Hristov, Radiotherapy clinic – Prof. Sahadchiev, Dermatology clinic – Prof. Lazarov, Imaging Department – Prof. Naumov, ENT – Dr. Belinov.
At that time the Hospital started using a contemporary radiotherapy unit. There were number of specialized experimental laboratories and their heads: in carcinogenesis - Prof. Chernozemski and later Prof. Hadgiolov;  in oncoimmunology (Prof. Boeva), in Genetics (Prof. Manolov) etc.