Hello and welcome to our comprehensive guide on the International Mesothelioma Program. As you may already know, mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the lining of organs, most commonly the lungs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral that was once widely used in construction, manufacturing, and other industries.
What is the International Mesothelioma Program?
The International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) is a collaborative effort between medical institutions and organizations around the world to develop better treatments for mesothelioma patients, as well as to conduct research to better understand the disease. The IMP was founded in 2002 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and has since expanded to include partnerships with institutions in Australia, Japan, and Europe.
History of the International Mesothelioma Program
The IMP was founded by Dr. David Sugarbaker, a thoracic surgeon and pioneer in the field of mesothelioma research. Dr. Sugarbaker recognized the need for a collaborative effort to develop better treatments for mesothelioma patients, as the disease is so rare that many medical institutions may only see a handful of cases in a year.
Under Dr. Sugarbaker’s leadership, the IMP has grown to become a leading center for mesothelioma research and treatment. The program has a multidisciplinary approach, with specialists in surgery, oncology, pathology, nursing, and other fields working together to provide the best care possible for mesothelioma patients.
Goals of the International Mesothelioma Program
The IMP has several goals in its mission to improve the lives of mesothelioma patients:
|Develop new treatments||The IMP conducts clinical trials and other research to identify new treatments for mesothelioma, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.|
|Improve current treatments||The IMP works to refine current mesothelioma treatments to make them more effective and less invasive.|
|Provide comprehensive care||The IMP offers a range of services to mesothelioma patients and their families, including counseling, support groups, and financial assistance.|
|Advance understanding of mesothelioma||The IMP conducts research to better understand the biology of mesothelioma and how it develops, in order to develop better diagnostic tools and treatments.|
Mesothelioma: Types, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that can affect the lining of organs throughout the body. There are several types of mesothelioma, but the most common type is pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The symptoms of mesothelioma can vary depending on the type of mesothelioma and the stage of the disease. Some common symptoms of mesothelioma include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
Mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose, as its symptoms are similar to those of other more common respiratory illnesses. If a patient has a history of asbestos exposure, however, a doctor may suspect mesothelioma and order further testing.
The most common types of tests used to diagnose mesothelioma include:
- CT scans
- MRI scans
- PET scans
Treatment Options for Mesothelioma
Because mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer, treatment can be difficult. However, there are several treatment options available to mesothelioma patients, depending on the stage of the disease and the patient’s overall health.
Surgery is often the first line of treatment for mesothelioma, as it can help to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. There are several surgical options for mesothelioma, including:
- Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D)
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP)
- Cytoreductive surgery with heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
Chemotherapy is also commonly used to treat mesothelioma. Chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill cancer cells, but they can also damage healthy cells in the process. Some common chemotherapy drugs used to treat mesothelioma include:
- Alimta (pemetrexed)
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. It can be used alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. Some common types of radiation therapy used to treat mesothelioma include:
- External beam radiation therapy
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
Current Research on Mesothelioma
The International Mesothelioma Program is actively conducting research to better understand mesothelioma and to develop new treatments for the disease. Some current areas of research include:
Immunotherapy is a promising new treatment approach that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. The IMP is currently conducting clinical trials on several immunotherapy drugs for mesothelioma, including pembrolizumab and nivolumab.
Biomarkers are substances in the body that can indicate the presence of cancer. The IMP is working to identify new biomarkers for mesothelioma that can be used for early detection and to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.
Genomic analysis involves studying the genetic makeup of cancer cells to better understand how they develop and how they can be targeted with treatment. The IMP is using genomic analysis to identify new targets for mesothelioma treatment.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral that was once widely used in construction, manufacturing, and other industries. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can become lodged in the lining of organs, causing inflammation and eventually leading to cancer.
Who is at Risk for Mesothelioma?
People who have worked in industries that use or produce asbestos are at the highest risk for mesothelioma, including construction workers, shipbuilders, and factory workers. Family members of people who work with asbestos also have an increased risk of mesothelioma, as asbestos fibers can be brought home on clothing and other items.
What is the Prognosis for Mesothelioma?
The prognosis for mesothelioma can vary depending on the stage of the disease and the patient’s overall health. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, which can make treatment more difficult. However, there are treatments available that can help to manage the symptoms of mesothelioma and improve the patient’s quality of life.
How Can I Get Involved in Mesothelioma Research?
If you are interested in getting involved in mesothelioma research, there are several organizations that offer opportunities to participate in clinical trials and other research studies. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization are two such organizations that offer information about ongoing research and ways to get involved.
Where Can I Learn More About Mesothelioma?
If you would like more information about mesothelioma, there are several resources available. The National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation all offer information about mesothelioma diagnosis, treatment, and research.
The International Mesothelioma Program is a valuable resource for mesothelioma patients and their families, as well as for medical professionals who are working to better understand and treat this rare disease. Through its comprehensive approach to care and its ongoing research efforts, the IMP is helping to improve the prognosis for mesothelioma patients around the world.