The International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) operates with this clearly define purpose: Quality life extension leading to a cure. The multidisciplinary IMP team, led by Dr. David J. Sugarbaker, addresses both the clinical and emotional needs of patients. Integrating novel chemotherapy and surgical procedures with the most advanced genetic "fingerprinting" and classification of tumors, the IMP serves as an international model of collaborative research, partnering with scientists across the globe.
Mesothelioma is a rare disease with about 3,000 cases being diagnosed annually in the U.S. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a cancer of the cells that make up the pleura (sac or covering) around the lungs and lining the chest wall. There is a well-established association between mesothelioma and asbestos. The time lag between exposure to asbestos and the expression of the disease can be 30 to 45 years. Without treatment, most patients will die from mesothelioma within 4 to 12 months from the time of diagnosis.
At BWH, cutting-edge research is combined with a holistic treatment approach, taking into account the emotional well-being of patients and their loved ones. The unique needs of patients and their families are addressed by incorporating dedicated social work, chaplaincy, and specialized post-discharge nursing care. The IMP draws referrals from across the United States and internationally and special provisions are made to help patients and families cope with extended time away from home by providing those in need with some assistance with travel and lodging.
Formally founded by Dr. Sugarbaker in 2002 as a part of the hospital's Division of Thoracic Surgery, the IMP has expanded significantly. More than 2,200 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma have been seen here, representing all 50 states and a growing cadre of international locations.
Philanthropy is critical to Dr. Sugarbaker and his IMP team because it allows them to sustain the leading-edge and comprehensive model of excellent clinical care, research and support services.