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More About Mesothelioma Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is an international leader in many areas of medicine, including mesothelioma. The hospital launched its Division of Thoracic Surgery in 1988 and then the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) 14 years later to address the rise of mesothelioma cases worldwide. Since then, Brigham and Women’s Hospital has been home to some of the brightest minds in mesothelioma treatment.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is affiliated with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This cancer center is designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a top facility for treatment. There are just a few cancer centers with NCI designations.
The IMP team includes three specialists. Each is adept at performing both curative surgeries for pleural mesothelioma: extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleurectomy with decortication. The cancer center also offers chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy and intraoperative chemotherapy, along with clinical trials.
The staff also provides practical help with housing and financial needs. The Thornton and Naumes Housing Assistance Program is specifically for families of a mesothelioma patient receiving treatment.
- Dr. Raphael Bueno, chief of thoracic surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and head of the IMP
- Dr. Hassan Khalil, associate thoracic surgeon and former head of the Boston VA mesothelioma program
- Dr. Kelly Jean Fitzgerald, radiation oncologist
- Narjust Florez, medical oncologist and Associate Director of Cancer Care Equity
- Harvard University Medical School
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery
- Pleurectomy/decortication surgery
- Heated intraoperative chemotherapy
Get Connected to Brigham and Women's Hospital
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is home to the International Mesothelioma Program, one of the most respected and successful mesothelioma treatment centers in the country.
Why Choose Brigham and Women's?
- The renowned International Mesothelioma Program
- Home to three of the top mesothelioma specialists
- Housing and financial assistance available to patients
Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program
The International Mesothelioma Program started in 2002 and brings together the most knowledgeable doctors to look for new ways to fight mesothelioma. The IMP research arm includes basic, translational and clinical research scientists. It aims to understand how mesothelioma develops and grows.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital Mesothelioma Treatment Team
Aside from the three experienced surgeons, the multidisciplinary team is comprised of:
- Medical oncologists (cancer doctors who specialize in chemotherapy or other targeted therapies, such as immunotherapy)
- Radiation oncologists (doctors who specialize in radiation for cancer)
- Radiologists (doctors who read and interpret imaging scans)
- Pathologists (doctors who study tissue removed from a biopsy)
- Thoracic anesthesiologists
Patient care is important, Brigham and Women’s Hospital has a team specifically for this aspect of treatment. The dedicated Brigham and Women’s Hospital mesothelioma support team provides counseling, emotional support and spiritual help to improve the quality of life for their patients.
The patient care team includes a:
- Dedicated nutritionist
- Social worker
- Six-member clinical research group
- Patient advocate (Donna Burke)
- Program navigator (Sheryl Chicoine)
The program navigator is one of the main points of contact for a patient. This person manages the surgery schedule, preoperative care and postoperative care.
- Listed in U.S. News & World Report 2023-2024 Hospitals Honor Roll
- Ranked 5th for cancer treatment overall
- Ranked 21st for gastrointestinal cancer surgery
- Ranked 41st for lung cancer surgery
- Ranked #2 in Massachusetts
Innovation in Mesothelioma Treatment and Research
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is a major teaching arm of Harvard Medical School, continuously working to improve its knowledge and extend its reach into the medical community.
The hospital has a tumor bank, established in 1992, containing frozen samples of more than 600 malignant pleural mesothelioma cases. The bank supplies researchers with hands-on information to help create profiles of abnormalities and pioneer new diagnostic methods.
Birthplace of Extrapleural Pneumonectomy
Extrapleural pneumonectomy is a radical, life-saving surgical option for pleural mesothelioma patients. It has prolonged the lives of numerous patients with this cancer.
This surgical procedure was developed and perfected by renowned specialist Dr. David Sugarbaker during his time at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The mesothelioma surgeons at the facility are experts in this surgery.
Affiliation With the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Founded in 1947, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has been a pioneer for cancer-related research and treatment. The institute is an internationally recognized cancer center closely involved with the International Mesothelioma Program.
“We have people coming here from all over the world,” Dr. Bueno said.
By partnering with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the International Mesothelioma Program, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute collaborates with the brightest minds and leading experts in cancer care. The institute provides its medical oncology team as an added resource for the program and hospital.
Housing Assistance at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
The staff also includes a housing director, an essential role considering how many out-of-area mesothelioma patients come to Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
More than half of the mesothelioma patients who seek care at the International mesothelioma Program live a far distance from the New England location. Most out-of-town patients have a family member or friend with them for emotional support. The Thornton and Naumes Housing Assistance Program provides housing assistance to these loved ones.
The house opened in 2008 and is located just across the street from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital main entrance. The average stay in the house is 19 days, and many family members or friends make repeated trips and consider the residence a second home.
The three-story Victorian house can accommodate up to three families at a time. If space is unavailable, the support staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital will work with nearby hotels and inns to provide discounted lodging rates.
Other Support Services
Another service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is the Patient Matching Program. This program matches patients with mesothelioma survivors who have received the same type of treatment as is planned.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital has helped many patients become survivors. In February 1996, survivor Sissy H. had radical treatment to remove her mesothelioma tumors. Sissy is still alive today thanks to these treatments.
“She just sent me a ‘Happy 25th anniversary’ text in January,” Dr. Bueno said.
Many other patients have had promising results here, including remission of their disease. Choosing the right cancer center to treat your specific disease, however, can be stressful. Fortunately, we at Mesothelioma Guide can help.
Contact one of our patient advocates at 1-888-385-2024 to get in touch with Brigham and Women’s Hospital. You also can request our free Mesothelioma Guide for a complete list of all the renowned mesothelioma centers and doctors in the country.
Sources & Author
- Housing & Living Arrangements. International Mesothelioma Program. Retrieved from: https://impmeso.org/what-to-expect/housing-living/. Accessed: 12/06/19.
- Sissy Hoffman. International Mesothelioma Program. Retrieved from: https://impmeso.org/the-imp-program/survivor-stories/sissy-hoffman/. Accessed: 12/06/19.
- About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.dana-farber.org/about-us/. Accessed: 12/06/19.
- Narjust Florez, MD. Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Retrieved from: https://physiciandirectory.brighamandwomens.org/details/15319/narjust-florez-cancer_-_medical_oncology-medical_oncology-boston-brookline. Accessed: 05/18/2023.
- Kelly Jean Fitzgerald, MD, PhD. Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Retrieved from: https://physiciandirectory.brighamandwomens.org/details/15302/kelly-fitzgerald-cancer_-_radiation_oncology-radiation_oncology-boston. Accessed: 05/18/2023.
- Personalized Treatment Philosophy. International Mesothelioma Program. Retrieved from: https://impmeso.org/personalized-treatment-philosophy/. Accessed: 07/13/2021.
- The Setting. International Mesothelioma Program. Retrieved from: https://impmeso.org/the-imp-program/the-setting/. Accessed: 07/13/2021.
- Brigham & Women’s Hospital. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from: https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/area/ma/brigham-and-womens-hospital-6140215. Accessed: 09/3/2021.