Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Quick Summary

Brigham and Women’s Hospital has one of the best mesothelioma programs in the world, and its prestige attracts patients from across the nation. Many of the modern treatments and therapies for mesothelioma were first discovered at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, while numerous leading experts completed their residencies or fellowships at the hospital. The hospital continues to attract top talent from around the world.

“Brigham and Women’s Hospital has long been renowned for its exceptional pulmonary medicine and thoracic surgical care, research and teaching,” said Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, President of Brigham and Women’s Health Care.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has been at the forefront of mesothelioma research for nearly 20 years. In 2002, the hospital helped found The International Mesothelioma Program, the largest one of its kind. In 2015, Brigham and Women’s opened The Lung Center and Lung Research Center, which the mesothelioma program now operates within.

Center Location & Overview

  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Lung Center is located in Boston, MA
  • Hosts one of the top pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma programs, founded by renowned expert Dr. David Sugarbaker
  • Developed the four-gene ratio test for diagnosing pleural mesothelioma and the trimodal approach to treating mesothelioma
  • One of the first hospitals to have a mesothelioma program, making it one of the most experienced in treating the disease

Patient Experience at BWH

Brigham and Women’s Hospital believes in collaboration and transparency, working with a multitude of mesothelioma experts throughout the diagnosis and treatment process. The medical staff pride themselves on their open communication with patients and their families, ensuring patients are at the center of care decisions.

The hospital has a dozen diagnostic techniques at their disposal, allowing surgical oncologists to accurately diagnose mesothelioma patients and develop a strategic plan of action.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides mesothelioma treatments at the International Mesothelioma Program, which is a partnership program between the hospital and the Dana-Farber and Women’s Cancer Center. Treatment is most often performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital but is sometimes administered at South Shore Hospital’s Weymouth campus.

Mesothelioma Program at BWH

The Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is globally renowned, having developed many of the diagnostic tools and procedures that are used to treat mesothelioma today. The program was founded by the respected mesothelioma expert Dr. David Sugarbaker, who worked at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for 25 years and oversaw the program for two decades.

Today, the mesothelioma division is home to several of the world’s top mesothelioma doctors, including Dr. Lebenthal, Dr. Bueno, and Dr. DaSilva. Every mesothelioma surgeon at Brigham and Women’s is also on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.

Brigham and Women’s mesothelioma program treats all three forms of mesothelioma: pleural, peritoneal and pericardial. Like most institutes in the United States, the doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are most experienced with pleural mesothelioma, due to its prevalence over the other two forms of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Doctors

  • Dr. Raphael Bueno
  • Dr. Abraham “Avi” Lebenthal
  • Dr. Marcelo DaSilva
  • Dr. Brian Whang
  • Dr. Michael Seth Rabin
  • Dr. Antonio Coppolino
  • Dr. Scott James Swanson
  • Dr. Michael Jaklitsch
  • Dr. Lucian Chirieac
  • Dr. Jonathan Alfred Fletcher
  • Dr. Lynette Sholl
  • Dr. Edmund Saulius Cibas
  • Dr. Robert Padera

Mesothelioma Treatment Options at BWH

Treatment Options Update

Brigham and Women’s Hospital uses an innovative test developed in its own oncology lab, called the four-gene ratio test, which helps determine the best treatment options for pleural mesothelioma patients. This test uses tissues from a collected tumor to determine the likely outcome of various therapies and is used to help determine treatment options.


The majority of mesothelioma patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital will be provided a treatment plan that includes surgery, such as EPP or P/D, as well as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

  • Robotic Surgery: When possible, surgeons at Brigham and Women’s will use video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) for mesothelioma patients. This minimally invasive surgical technique is a cutting-edge option that improves recovery and can be utilized for EPP and P/D procedures.
  • Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP):  EPP is a severe procedure, often performed by Brigham and Women’s doctors for patients with early-stage mesothelioma. In this surgery, the affected lung is completely removed, in addition to parts of the heart’s membrane, diaphragm and chest membrane. Though lung removal is a serious operation, patients who receive it tend to live longer and with a greater quality of life.
  • Pleurectomy/Decortication (P/D): Pleurectomy/Decortication is two separate procedures, which are commonly combined for mesothelioma patients. With pleurectomy, the Brigham and Women’s team will open the chest and remove lung lining. For decortication, surgeons meticulously remove any visible tumors from the chest.
  • Chemotherapy: Brigham and Women’s commonly uses oral or intravenous chemotherapy in their treatment of mesothelioma patients, in conjunction with surgery and radiation therapy. In the most advanced cases of mesothelioma where surgery is no longer an option, patients may receive chemotherapy as a standalone treatment.
  • Radiation Therapy:  Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is used by radiation oncologists to shrink tumors, directing high-energy beams of radiation to the affected area. Brigham and Women’s Hospital has highly advanced radiation technology, which allows for minimal tissue damage during treatment.

Clinical Trials, Studies & Research

The International Mesothelioma Project laboratory has significantly contributed to the world’s ability to understand and treat mesothelioma. Brigham and Women’s groundbreaking research set a precedence of scientific excellence that continues to be upheld to this day. At any given time, the surgeons at Brigham and Women’s are working on dozens of research projects and clinical trials.

The research division at the International Mesothelioma Program provides patients with the unique opportunity to try new pharmaceutical drugs as part of clinical trials. These drugs are prescribed based on the specific biological makeup of a patient’s tumor and are part of scientific studies that aim to develop better treatments and an eventual cure for mesothelioma.

  • Treatment Trials: Within treatment trials, patients will help test newly developed treatment options for mesothelioma. These typically consist of drugs trials or improved surgical methods.
  • Non-Treatment Trials: An additional form of trial is non-treatment, which attempts to prevent remission or improve patient quality of life. Brigham and Women’s non-treatment trials tend to inhibit cancer cell growth by blocking cell signal pathways or preventing cell growth.

Insurance Information at BWH

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is happy to accept the majority of health insurance plans. However, patients are advised to check with their own provider to confirm treatment. Brigham and Women’s insurance is organized through Partners Healthcare, which organizes insurance for most Boston hospitals.

The insurance plans typically accepted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital include:

  • Aetna
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
  • Cigna
  • Commonwealth Care Alliance
  • Coventry
  • Fallon Community Health Plan
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
  • HealthNet Federal Services VA Choice
  • Humana
  • Neighborhood Health Plan
  • Private Healthcare Systems / MultiPlan Inc.
  • Transplant Centers of Excellence Networks
  • TriCare
  • Tufts Health Plan
  • UniCare
  • United

BWH’s Mission Statement & Values

Brigham and Women’s Hospital operates with guiding core values and the following mission statement:

“The Harvard Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Boston Children’s Hospital Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program is dedicated to training socially responsible, clinically excellent, innovative, and compassionate physician leaders.”

The hospital’s core values revolve around patient care, community, and career. This career focus is rare within a hospital’s value set, but it makes sense: by fostering education, leadership and innovation within the hospital, Brigham and Women’s is able to provide world-class health programs that are fully modern and continually improve.

In addition to the hospital’s main values, The Lung Center has its own additional objectives:

“The Lung Center is focused on our patients and is structured to enhance communication and teamwork, facilitate collaboration between departments and services and enhance our existing areas of strength. We look forward to watching The Lung Center harness the entrepreneurial spirit of many staff and disciplines to further improve the patient care experience within BWH and in conjunction with our colleagues at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute,” said Dr. Nabel.

To book an appointment with Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a mesothelioma consultation, call them 617-732-5500. Or get in touch with one our Patient Advocates who can help put you in touch with top mesothelioma specialists to start getting the treatment you deserve.

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Sources
  1. US Health News. “Brigham & Women’s Hospital.” Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/area/ma/brigham-and-womens-hospital-6140215. Accessed on November 20th, 2017.
  2. Brigham & Women’s Hospital. “Mesothelioma Overview.” Retrieved from http://www.brighamandwomens.org/Departments_and_Services/surgery/thoracic-surgery/mesothelioma/default.aspx. Accessed on November 20th, 2017.
  3. Brigham & Women’s Hospital. “Mesothelioma.” Retrieved from http://www.brighamandwomens.org/Departments_and_Services/lung-center/lung-diseases-and-conditions/mesothelioma.aspx#multidisciplinary. Accessed on November 20th, 2017.
  4. Brigham & Women’s Hospital. “The Lung Center Leadership.” Retrieved from http://www.brighamandwomens.org/Departments_and_Services/lung-center/lung-center-leadership.aspx?sub=0. Accessed on November 20th, 2017.
  5. Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. “Clinical Trials.” Retrieved from http://clinicaltrials.dfhcc.harvard.edu/search?search_text=mesothelioma. Accessed on November 26th, 2017.
  6. Brigham & Women’s Hospital. “Mission, Vision, and Values.” Retrieved from http://www.brighamandwomens.org/Departments_and_Services/medicine/medical_professionals/residency/MedPeds/Sites.aspx. Accessed on November 26th, 2017.

Last modified: May 7, 2018