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Swedish Medical Center Cancer Institute, Seattle

The Swedish Medical Center is a large non-profit medical and healthcare center located in Seattle. It is one of the largest healthcare providers in the region with multiple hospitals in the state of Washington. The Cancer institute has been an important provider of treatment and a leader in cancer research for decades, since its establishment in the 1930s.

The Swedish Cancer Institute has long been innovating ways to treat cancer patients, including those with mesothelioma. It was the first facility in the country to use radiation therapy, a now standard treatment for most types of cancer. The surgery department is led by an expert in both lung cancer and mesothelioma. Dr. Eric Vallieres and his colleagues provide excellent specialist treatment for patients who were affected by asbestos.

About the Swedish Cancer Institute

The Swedish Medical Center was founded in 1910 by Dr. Nils Johanson, a Swedish immigrant and a surgeon who wanted to offer a non-profit hospital to the residents of Seattle. The original hospital had just 24 beds, but today it has grown to be one of the largest medical centers in the area. The expansion included the establishment of the Cancer Institute in 1932. It was the first dedicated cancer facility to be built west of the Mississippi River.

The founding of the Cancer Institute, which was originally called the Swedish Tumor Institute, came after Dr. Johanson convinced the hospital to buy radium and an X-ray machine. With these tools the new Institute became the first to use radiation to treat people with cancer. The Cancer Institute continues to expand and innovate, most recently opening the True Family Women’s Cancer Center, the largest facility in the region for treating women with cancer.

Treating Mesothelioma

The Swedish Cancer Institute treats patients with a range of cancer types, including rare cancers like mesothelioma. Patients who are referred here for mesothelioma benefit from the specialists, the personalized approach to treatment, and the cutting edge treatment technologies used. The latter includes the most advanced radiation therapy equipment, like a CyberKnife and Gamma Knife tool. These are for administering radiation therapy in a more targeted way that protects healthy tissue.

Surgery is also an important part of mesothelioma treatment and the surgeons at the Cancer Institute are up to date on all the latest surgical procedures and technologies. Patients can benefit from the use of robotic surgery here, which is more precise and less invasive than traditional surgery and allows patients to recover more quickly. Patients here can also be treated with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, genetic therapy, and may be enrolled in clinical trials for the latest treatments.

Dr. Eric Vallieres

The Swedish Cancer Institute is particularly important for mesothelioma patients because it is one of few cancer facilities with mesothelioma specialists on staff. The director of surgery and of the Lung Cancer Program, Dr. Vallieres, is a thoracic surgeon and a leading expert in both lung cancer and mesothelioma. He has helped to develop a trimodal approach to treating mesothelioma patients, using a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. He has also been instrumental in researching and developing better surgical procedures for mesothelioma.

Extrapleural Pneumonectomy

The Swedish Cancer Institute is one of few places in the country where mesothelioma patients have access to a surgeon skilled and experienced enough to perform an extrapleural pneumonectomy. Dr. Vallieres is one such surgeon and he regularly preforms this radical procedure to help save lives of patients with this aggressive cancer.

An extrapleural pneumonectomy is a complicated and risky surgery that takes many hours to complete. For those pleural mesothelioma patients who are eligible, it represents a rare possibility of beating the cancer. The surgery has sometimes led to remission in patients because it involves removing a large portion of tissue from the chest cavity in an attempt to remove all of the cancer: the pleura, lymph nodes, part of the diaphragm, and one whole lung.

While there are serious risks with this surgery, including the risk of dying because of it, and even though recovery is long and slow, many patients who are eligible opt to go through with it. It is the only treatment that gives some patients the chance to survive mesothelioma.

Top-Notch Support Services for Mesothelioma Patients

The care for patients with mesothelioma and other types of cancer at the Swedish Cancer Institute does not stop with medical treatments. Patients also receive an array of wellness and other support services to help them cope with having cancer and to find relief from symptoms and side effects. Patients can benefit from art and music therapy programs, which help them cope emotionally, as well as one-on-one and family counseling.

Patients and their families can also undergo genetic counseling to determine risk factors for cancers and to help develop better individualized treatment plans. Services to support patients’ physical health include nutrition care, massage therapy, physical therapy, wellness education, rehabilitation, and a variety of classes to help patients learn more about their cancer and its repercussions.

Research and Clinical Trials

Like other leading cancer institutes, the staff at Swedish participate in research studies and lead clinical trials to help advance knowledge of cancer and how to treat it. Some of the most important areas of research are studies that find new treatments and new combinations of treatments to give patients better outcomes, new ways to prevent cancer, better diagnostic tools for detecting cancer earlier, and new strategies for improving patient quality of life.

Researchers and clinicians also work on and lead clinical trials, testing new treatments with actual patients for safety and effectiveness. One example of a Swedish clinical trial that is currently active is a randomized phase II trial of a new combination of chemotherapy drugs in patients with pleural mesothelioma. It is trials like these that both advance treatment of cancer and give individual patients the chance to benefit from new treatments.

The Swedish Cancer Institute is a leader in both treating and researching mesothelioma and other types of cancer. With specialists on staff and a dedication to personalized treatment and patient wellness, those with mesothelioma have a chance to receive the best care anywhere when referred here.

Page Edited by 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. Connect with Patient Advocate Dave Foster

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