Mesothelioma Center Review – Brigham & Women’s Hospital
As one of the pioneering programs in the treatment of mesothelioma, the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has been providing innovative treatments to patients diagnosed with mesothelioma for the past two decades. BWH was one of the facilities that established the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP), the largest program for mesothelioma in the world. The IMP is a partnership among Boston-based medical institutions, including BWH, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Boston VA Health Care System and Harvard School of Public Health. Together, these medical facilities strive to deliver comprehensive research and treatment solutions to improve each patient’s prognosis and prolong life expectancy.
Individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma are treated with both traditional and pioneering techniques including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination thereof. The cornerstone of the mesothelioma treatment program is an experienced surgical team comprised of board certified thoracic surgeons. The surgery team combines the expertise of surgeons from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.
The surgeons at BWH utilize advanced methods for diagnosing mesothelioma. Once a diagnosis is made, the surgical team may decide to perform one of a number of cutting-edge surgical procedures, including pleurectomy and extrapleural pneumonectomy, with the assistance of minimally invasive assisted thoracic surgery and robotic-assisted technology. Pleurectomy is performed with the goal of eliminating the cancerous lining surrounding the diseased lung. Doctors also perform extrapleural pneumonectomies to remove several affected areas including the lung, pleura (the lining around the lung), diaphragm, and pericardium (the lining around the heart). Surgery is generally followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy to prevent disease progression.
BWH physicians who treat mesothelioma patients are also involved in advanced research initiatives. The broad range of proficiency allows the medical team at BWH to apply academic research to the clinical care of their patients. Patients additionally receive care from other medical professionals throughout the BWH network.
The individualized approach to mesothelioma treatment is enhanced by the application of new tests developed by clinicians at the Lung Center. The four-gene ratio test helps clinicians identify therapies that will yield the most favorable results for particular patients. Using the molecular data from this test, clinicians can decide whether to perform surgery and other conventional therapies or pursue more aggressive experimental treatments. BWH has taken action to make this test widely available in other clinical contexts by licensing it to Castle Biosciences. Researchers at BWH are also working on testing methods for new drugs in clinical trials. Many of these drugs are currently being administered to mesothelioma patients along with surgical treatment.
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