What is Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that primarily occurs in the lining of the lung. Mesothelioma affects over 10,000 people per year worldwide and approximately 3,000 people per year in the United States; and its incidence continues to rise. Without treatment, most patients die from mesothelioma within 4 to 12 months from the time of diagnosis, typically as a result of respiratory failure or pneumonia.
What causes Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos particles. The cancer has a long latency period and typically does not develop for 30 to 40 years after first exposure. Those who are exposed to asbestos for extended periods of time are at the highest risk, but there have been documented cases resulting from only a single exposure.
The International Mesothelioma Program:
David J. Sugarbaker, MD, founded the International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in 2002. The program was created in response to the rising incidence of mesothelioma worldwide; the unknown long-term effects of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, 2001; and the limitations of available therapy.
The program is now led by Raphael Bueno, MD, and it encompasses both a clinical and a research program. The clinical focus is on developing treatment strategies that can significantly extend the life of patients. The research focus is to understand the causative factors in the development of the disease and to translate these findings into improved therapy. The program involves a multidisciplinary collaboration of surgeons, pulmonologists, oncologists, nurses, radiologists, pathologists, researchers, and medical and social science professionals.
Ultimately, the objectives of the program are to offer state-of-the-art treatment and to provide potentially curative therapy to patients with malignant mesothelioma while extending and improving quality of life. To date, the program has provided care to more then 2,500 patients. Together with the newly established Lung Center at BWH, more resources than ever are available for mesothelioma patients