A mesothelioma diagnosis usually turns the life of a patient and his or her family upside down, leaving them feeling frightened and overwhelmed. At the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, our comprehensive care model acknowledges these feelings and provides care and support to our patients and their families so that they can concentrate on treatment. Since 2002, we have thoughtfully crafted a unique model of care uniting teams of caregivers and support staff around patients and their families to provide the best personalized treatment possible.

Once we have confirmed a diagnosis of mesothelioma, we invite new patients and their primary caregiver to our patient orientation. At the orientation, patients and their family members receive a comprehensive overview of treatment options, clinical trials, research projects, as well as support programs including housing and transportation, and nursing and nutrition support after surgery. In addition, a patient speaker describes his or her journey through surgery and treatment.

At the new patient orientation, each patient can meet with a physician’s assistant (PA). Our Division of Thoracic Surgery has 12 PAs who closely follow the care of each patient and serve as the focal point for questions and concerns. Whether assisting with treatment, coordinating schedules for tests and surgery, or helping with outpatient and post-op follow up, our highly skilled PAs are integral to each aspect of their patients’ journeys. The complete care team includes surgeons, nurses, thoracic residents and fellows, nutritionists, chaplains, and a social worker. We also partner with oncologists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to ensure our patients have access to follow-up treatment when needed. These professionals collaborate to create tailored treatment plans for each patient and ensure the best possible outcome.

Research and clinical trials are an integral part of the IMP. These are communicated to our patients early on, so that they can decide to participate. In addition to meeting with their physician, patients can sit down with our research associates who inform them of clinical trials and how they can enroll in a trial that might benefit them.

In addition to our clinical care team, we have two chaplains and a social worker on staff to support our patients and their families throughout this process. Providing assistance for the emotional and social needs of our patients and families is crucial to our care model and helps patients and their families better manage life during and after treatment. Because we understand the significant role the family plays for a mesothelioma patient’s recovery, we offer a weekly lunch for family members to share stories and strategies. In 2008, we established a home away from home right across the street from the hospital, which provides affordable housing for mesothelioma patients receiving treatment and their families.

At the IMP, this is our mission: to develop comprehensive, customized treatments and specialized care focused on our patients and their families, so our patients can lead longer and healthier lives.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is for general educational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This blog post should not be interpreted as an endorsement by Dr. Bueno of the blog’s sponsor.