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Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is a large facility specializing in cancer care. It is one of the country’s leading resources for mesothelioma patients. The hospital collaborates with Dana-Farber and the Harvard Cancer Center for better extended care, research, treatment, and education for cancers of all types, including mesothelioma.
Brigham is one of the best hospitals in the world. It is a leader in transplants and has a highly respected cancer center. U.S. News and World Report currently ranks Brigham fourth in the nation for cancer care, and it consistently ranks as a top hospital and leader in lung cancer and mesothelioma surgeries. Brigham and Women’s Hospital is also home to the International Mesothelioma Program, founded by world-renowned mesothelioma specialist, Dr. David Sugarbaker.
Facts about Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is part of Brigham Health, which also includes Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s Physician Organization. It also serves as a teaching hospital, serving the students of Harvard Medical School. The hospital consists of more than 150 practices serving outpatients. More than 1,200 physicians work at the hospital. Brigham is well known as a place to refer patients with complicated cases, diagnoses, and conditions.
Today’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital is the result of a merger of three previous hospitals. These hospitals were Boston Hospital for Women, Robert Breck Brigham Hospital, and Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, all formerly Harvard teaching hospitals. In its current incarnation, Brigham has only existed since 1980. However, the original hospitals date back to 1966, 1914, and 1913. The Boston Hospital for Women was created in 1966 as a merger between the Free Hospital for Women, established in 1875, and the Boston Lying-In Hospital, a maternity hospital established in 1832.
The history of Brigham and Women’s Hospital reaches back nearly 200 years. The current hospital, as well as those merged to create it, has long been at the forefront of medical innovations. In 1847, the Lying-In Hospital was the first to give women anesthesia for childbirth. In 1923 the first heart valve surgery was performed on a 12 year old at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. That was followed by the first Kidney transplant in 1954. Today, Brigham and Women’s Hospital continues that tradition through research and innovative treatments.
Few hospitals can claim mesothelioma specialists on staff, let alone more than one. Brigham and Women’s Hospital is not only a leader in cancer care, but in mesothelioma. Mesothelioma patients are treated through the Division of Thoracic Surgery and the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, where treatment and research for mesothelioma are cutting edge. The hospital and surgical division see hundreds of mesothelioma patients every year. Most hospitals may only see one or two.
Mesothelioma patients treated at Brigham also have access to some of the best, most innovative treatment strategies. Physicians here treat patients through a collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach. They often work collaboratively to develop individual treatment plans. Treatment is typically multimodal, meaning several approaches are employed. Approaches include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, as well as novel treatments like new, targeted drugs, gene therapy, and immunotherapy. The facility also enrolls patients in clinical trials, allowing them access to treatment not yet fully approved.
The International Mesothelioma Program
Mesothelioma patients who come to Brigham and Women’s also have access to the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP). The IMP brings together specialists, treating nearly 200 patients annually, while conducting hundreds more consultations. Dr. David Sugarbaker, a world expert in mesothelioma and a pioneer in the surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy, founded the program..
Although Dr. Sugarbaker left Brigham and the IMP for the Lung Institute at Baylor College of Medicine, he left an important legacy. Dr. Dugarbaker left the IMP in the capable hands of Dr. Raphael Bueno, another respected mesothelioma expert. The IMP team uses a collaborative effort, focused and individualized patient care, multimodal treatment, and innovative treatments to provide the best possible care.
The hospital, the cancer center, and the IMP all conduct research and clinical trials for cancer and mesothelioma. Much of that research breaks ground in the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of mesothelioma. For instance, IMP researchers can access a tumor bank that helps advance mesothelioma research. Brigham and Women’s Hospital has more than 150 lead researchers working on a variety of projects. The facility receives funding from more than 200 grants.
Clinical trials of defactinib, a new drug being used to treat mesothelioma, are included in research conducted at Brigham and associated facilities . This drug works by targeting the tumor’s stem cells, reducing their resistance to chemotherapy. Researchers are also investigating immunosuppressant drugs that block specific proteins to prevent tumor growth. They are also studying the effects of other immunotherapy drugs including pembrolizumab, or Keytruda.
Notable Staff and Mesothelioma Specialists
As one of the leading mesothelioma research and treatment facilities, Brigham and Women’s has alarge number of specialists and experts on staff. These include Dr. Bueno, now head of the IMP and chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery. Dr. Bueno worked with Dr. Sugarbaker and continues his legacy of excellent treatment and research.
Also on staff are Dr. Abraham Lebenthal and Dr. Marcelo DaSilva. Dr. Lebenthal is a pleural mesothelioma specialist and thoracic surgeon. He works at the IMP and also at the VA Boston Hospital, caring for veterans who were victims of asbestos exposure. Dr. DaSilva is also a mesothelioma specialist and has been instrumental in advancing the treatment technique of heated intraoperative chemotherapy, the use of heated chemotherapy drugs in the abdomen or chest cavity after surgery.
For the best cancer care, specifically mesothelioma care, patients will find expert care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. With the hospital itself, the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, and the International Mesothelioma Program, patients have access to field leaders including surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, and others. Few medical centers have dedicated as many resources to mesothelioma. This dedication pays off in lives enhanced by care from Brigham.
Page Edited by Patient Advocate Dave Foster
Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available.