75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115
Mesothelioma patients can access first-class cancer care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston. As a partner with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and a component in the greater Harvard Medical School family, BWH offers the promise of unrivaled diagnosis and treatment of cancer, with a major emphasis on mesothelioma and related pleural conditions.
BWH is home to the prestigious International Mesothelioma Program (IMP), which places a special emphasis on effective, cutting-edge treatments for pleural mesothelioma that significantly extend patients’ lives.
Founded in 1832 as the nation’s first all-maternity hospital, BWH arose from the 1980 merger of three prestigious Harvard teaching hospitals. Every year, this 793-bed facility, with locations throughout the Boston metropolitan area, admits an estimated 46,000 inpatient admissions. In addition, more than 15,000 people including 3,000 physicians, fellows and residents, more than 1,000 researchers and 2,800 nurses are employed by the hospital.
BWH has long been hailed as a leading medical destination, as evidenced by its continuous ranking for 23 straight years in U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals.” The publication also ranked the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center fourth best cancer center in the U.S. for 2015-16.
Each year, the International Mesothelioma Program treats 180 patients and offers 310 consultations, making it the world’s largest program of its kind. IMP prospered under the leadership of its founder, Dr. David Sugarbaker, an internationally renowned innovator in mesothelioma treatment and the former Chief of Thoracic Surgery at BWH.
Sugarbaker pioneered the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) surgery for pleural mesothelioma a primary treatment option that has helped extend the lives of thousands of patients. He left Brigham and Women’s in 2014 to serve as director of the Lung Institute at Baylor College of Medicine.
A key member at IMP is Dr. Raphael Bueno, a specialist in lung and esophageal cancers, mesothelioma and minimally invasive surgery. Bueno, who took over Sugarbaker’s role as chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery, decided to dedicate every Friday solely to mesothelioma patients. Dr. Abraham Lebenthal, an esteemed surgeon on Bueno’s team, specializes in mesothelioma, diseases of the gastro-esophageal junction, esophageal cancer and lung cancer.
The treatment team at IMP embraces a multimodal approach, offering multiple treatment options and combinations for mesothelioma and other conditions. Specialists from all of the hospital’s affiliates contribute to patient care. IMP has made great inroads into the biology and target discovery of mesothelioma, including growth control, over-expressed genes and the expression of specific antigens. However, the program also stresses the need for improved approaches to mesothelioma diagnosis, pathology and treatments, and a better understanding of patient outcomes and patterns of recurrence.
IMP also is a center for mesothelioma research, with scientists from multiple backgrounds collaborating to improve future therapies and learn more about the cancer and its causes. Since 1993, these research collaborations have resulted in a wide array of individual and joint publications.
In 2003, Brigham and Women’s promoted its close affiliation with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute by creating the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), a new name for the integrated cancer services provided at both facilities. Today, the center is a national leader in cancer care and research.
Mesothelioma patients at DF/BWCC can expect the highest quality of care from leading cancer specialists at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s. The affiliation between the centers allows them to collaborate and share crucial knowledge and resources. This level of teamwork not only bolsters research, but also helps many patients meet with all of their specialists in one visit.
Dana-Farber is located just across the street from Brigham and Women’s. Patients often have appointments at both facilities for treatment, depending on the procedure. Those who opt for surgery are treated at the International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women’s. Other services offered there include post-surgical care, radiation therapy and treatments for pain and palliative care. Most treatments and procedures that don’t require a hospital stay, including chemotherapy, are provided by Dana-Farber at the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care. Cutting-edge clinical trials take place at both centers.
Brigham and Women’s is a top recipient of National Institutes of Health research grants, and is internationally renowned for its clinical, translational, bench and population-based research studies. The hospital has more than 150 lead researchers on staff investigating pressing issues in cancer care with the help of more than 200 funded grants.
These studies aim to improve the treatment and prevention of many cancers, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. Clinical trials for asbestos-related cancers at Brigham and Women’s include:
This phase II study will explore the safety and effectiveness of defactinib, an experimental drug that targets mesothelioma stem cells. These cells cause tumors to grow resistant to chemotherapy over time, and researchers suspect that defactinib can prevent this resistance and block the cancer’s ability to grow.
Thromboelastography (TEB) is a technique doctors use to test how well a patient’s blood coagulates, or forms clots. This study is now recruiting pleural mesothelioma patients scheduled to undergo extrapleural pneumonectomy or pleurectomy surgery. Researchers hope to determine if TEB can give doctors a better understanding of how well a patient’s blood clots at different stages of surgery, which could help improve therapy.
ALCHEMIST is a large multicenter trial that will explore new gene-based screening techniques. In the study, researchers will collect tumor tissue from patients with certain types of early-stage lung cancer and examine the genes within the cancerous cells. Using this genetic information, doctors may be able to recommend more effective treatments tailored to the patient’s specific genetic changes. In addition, the genetic information may also help doctors predict survival and the likelihood of cancer recurrence.
Past clinical trials at BWH that have improved our understanding of mesothelioma and lung cancer include:
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