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Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston

Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is a large facility that specializes in cancer care and is one of the leading resources for mesothelioma patients in the country. The hospital collaborates with Dana-Farber and the Harvard Cancer Center for even better extended care and, research, treatment, and education for cancers of all types, including mesothelioma.

Brigham has long been considered one of the best hospitals in the world, a leader in transplants, and a top-notch cancer center. It is currently ranked fourth in the nation for cancer by U.S. News and World Report and is consistently ranked 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 a part of Brigham Health, which also includes Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s Physician Organization. It is also a teaching hospital serving the students of Harvard Medical School. The hospital consists of more than 150 practices serving on an outpatient basis, and more than 1,200 physicians work at the hospital. Brigham is well known throughout the country as a place to refer patients with complicated cases, diagnoses, and conditions.

History

Today’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital is the result of a merger of three previous hospitals, all formerly Harvard teaching hospitals: the Boston Hospital for Women, the Robert Breck Brigham Hospital, and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. The hospital in its current incarnation has only existed since 1980, but 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. The latter was established in 1832 and one of the first strictly maternity hospital in the country.

The history of Brigham and Women’s Hospital reaches back nearly 200 years and the current hospital, as well as those merged to create it, has always been at the forefront of medical innovations. In 1847, the Lying-In Hospital was the first to give women anesthesia for childbirth, and 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 in that tradition through research and innovative treatments.

Mesothelioma Treatment

Few hospitals can claim to have specialists in mesothelioma on staff, let alone more than one. Brigham and Women’s Hospital is not only a leader in cancer care, but in mesothelioma, a rare and difficult cancer to treat. 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, where most hospitals only see one or two.

Patients treated here for mesothelioma not only have specialists and experts on their side, but also some of the best and most innovative treatment strategies. The physicians here treat patients through a collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach, working together to develop the best treatment plans for each individual. Treatment is typically multimodal, meaning several approaches are used to manage the cancer. These include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, as well as novel treatments like new, targeted drugs, gene therapy, and immunotherapy. Brigham and Women’s also enrolls patients in clinical trials where they get access to treatment that is not yet fully approved.

The International Mesothelioma Program

In addition to the Division of Thoracic Surgery and the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, mesothelioma patients who come to Brigham and Women’s also have access to the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP). The IMP brings together a group of specialists and treats nearly 200 patients a year, while also conducting hundreds more consultations. The IMP was founded by Dr. David Sugarbaker, one of the world’s leading experts in mesothelioma, and a pioneer in the surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy, which has saved and extended lives.

Although Dr. Sugarbaker left Brigham and the IMP for the Lung Institute at Baylor College of Medicine, he left behind an important legacy and left the IMP in the capable hands of Dr. Raphael Bueno, a colleague and expert in mesothelioma. The team at the IMP uses a collaborative effort, focused and individualized patient care, multimodal treatment, and the most innovative treatments to provide the best possible care.

Research

The hospital, the cancer center, and the IMP all conduct and lead research and clinical trials for a number of diseases including cancer and mesothelioma. Much of that research is leading the way in the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of mesothelioma. At the IMP, for instance, 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 and are funded by more than 200 grants.

Some of the research that is being conducted at Brigham and its associated facilities include clinical trials of defactinib, a new drug being used to treat mesothelioma by targeting the tumor’s stem cells and reducing their resistance to chemotherapy. Researchers are also investigating immunosuppressant drugs that may help prevent tumor growth by blocking certain proteins, and other immunotherapy drugs including pembrolizumab, or Keytruda.

Notable Staff and Mesothelioma Specialists

As one of the leading facilities for studying and treating mesothelioma, it’s no wonder that there are so many specialists and experts on staff here. These include Dr. Bueno, now the head of the IMP and the Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery. He worked with Dr. Sugarbaker and is continuing his legacy at the IMP with 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, and more specifically for the best mesothelioma care, patients are hard pressed to find a better facility than 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 many leaders in their fields, from surgeons and oncologists to radiologists and others. Few medical centers have devoted as many resources to mesothelioma and it pays off in lives that have been made better for treatment at Brigham.

 

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