The International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has already made significant progress in developing new treatments to extend the lives of mesothelioma patients. Under the leadership of Dr. David Sugarbaker, the specialists at the IMP have pioneered a number of innovative multimodality therapies. IMP researchers have also collaborated with other institutions to enhance the scientific understanding of mesothelioma.
Quality of Life Issues Addressed by IMP
Just as importantly, the clinicians and researchers at the IMP are working on ways to enhance the quality of life for mesothelioma patients and their families. Despite all the improvements in treatment, mesothelioma is still a difficult disease, and the treatments themselves can be grueling. Even with the best care, the disease can take a heavy toll on mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Members of the IMP team are well aware of this fact, and are working to find ways to help patients cope with their disease, and to ease the burden on their caregivers. Some of the concerns raised by patients include fatigue, feeling anxious or afraid, depression, pain and cognitive problems sometimes called “chemo brain”. A mesothelioma patient will need to find a new balance or equilibrium to his life. One’s personal goals and needs will change so that quality of life is redefined by the patient as he journeys through his treatment.
Having represented hundreds of mesothelioma clients over the last 32 years, attorney Gary Galiher commends the IMP for making the mesothelioma patient’s quality of life issues an integral part of their multidisciplinary team approach to patient care.
IMP Study Focuses on Mesothelioma Patients’ Quality of Life
In order to take a more focused look at the quality-of-life needs of mesothelioma patients, the IMP has recently reopened a new study which seeks to identify the factors that make the biggest difference in a mesothelioma patient’s quality of life. The study is being conducted by Alice Kornblith, a senior research scientist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and is funded by the International Mesothelioma Program. Kornblith hopes to enroll up to 400 IMP patients in this effort to compile a database of information about mesothelioma symptoms and quality of life.
The patients who enroll in the study will be asked to complete special questionnaires every three weeks for a period of 36 weeks. The questionnaires will collect information about their ongoing symptoms, their pain, their physical functioning, and their emotional and psychological concerns. This will allow researchers to get a better understanding of the factors that affect a patient’s quality of life, and will help them assess the impact of various different treatment regimens on the patient’s overall sense of well-being.
One sub-set of the study will focus on mesothelioma survivors who are cancer-free for one year or more after completing treatment. According to Kornblith, “Little is known about this group of patients, but as therapy improves and more patients survive longer, it is important to understand how survivors adjust to their disease, how their quality of life is affected, and what supports might be beneficial for them.”
This research will be used at the IMP and other mesothelioma treatment facilities to better address the quality-of-life needs of mesothelioma patients. Clinicians will be able to use the study’s data to identify the greatest needs of mesothelioma patients, and create new treatment protocols and support services to enhance patients’ health and well-being.