The International Mesothelioma Program: Help for Veterans

4 Min Read

A doctor sits with an older patient

The International Mesothelioma Program gives patients access to high-quality medical treatment after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. The doctors and researchers use a variety of different treatments to do everything they can to help patients live longer. Learn how the International Mesothelioma Program can help veterans with mesothelioma right now.

What Is the International Mesothelioma Program?

The International Mesothelioma Program is a cutting-edge treatment program based out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. It was founded in 2002 to address the growing number of mesothelioma cases around the world.

Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer with only one known cause: asbestos exposure. If asbestos fibers are breathed in or swallowed, they can get stuck in the body and eventually cause cells within the linings of major organs (lungs, abdomen, heart, or testicles) and become cancerous.

Did you know?

Mesothelioma is a very rare disease, with only 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Thankfully, members of the International Mesothelioma Program are experts in diagnosing and treating this cancer.

The International Mesothelioma Program has a team of over 80 people, including doctors, scientists, and patient advocates who are all well-trained to help patients and their families. The leader of the program is Dr. Raphael Bueno, a renowned pleural mesothelioma expert who has been practicing surgery for decades.

U.S. veterans are at a higher risk of mesothelioma because the military relied on asbestos for decades when the risks were not well-known. Fortunately, veterans with mesothelioma may be able to live longer by seeking high-quality treatments from the International Mesothelioma Program or other hospitals.

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The Care Approach of the International Mesothelioma Program

The medical team at the International Mesothelioma Program takes a personalized approach to caring for patients.

Mesothelioma is a complex disease — factors such as cancer stage, location, and cell type can all greatly affect a patient’s treatment plan. Because of this, there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. Doctors must see which mesothelioma treatment options will be most helpful for each patient.

That said, the team has one overarching philosophy: ‘go for broke’ to help patients live longer.

“We tell our patients that while there is no cure for mesothelioma, we will do everything possible to help them in their journeys. And we have had some remarkable successes – many of our patients are living productive lives 10, 12, even 15 years and more after their treatment.”

— the International Mesothelioma Program

The program offers top treatments for mesothelioma such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, to help patients live as long as possible. Patients may also access newer treatments through clinical trials that the program participates in.

Finally, the program offers palliative care to ease physical pain and organizes support groups for patients and caregivers to ease emotional suffering.

The International Mesothelioma Program & Cancer Research

The International Mesothelioma Program is focused on finding new treatment options and ultimately a cure for this cancer.

The program is conducting research to better understand mesothelioma and how it can be treated by participating in several research projects.

These studies include:

  • The Genomic Project: This project is studying how the genes of mesothelioma tumors vary from healthy tissue. The hope is that recognizing these differences will allow doctors to diagnose and treat the cancer more effectively.
  • Velcade® Study: Researchers are investigating a chemotherapy drug called Velcade® (bortezomib). The team discovered that Velcade helped mesothelioma chemotherapy drugs Alimta® (pemetrexed) and cisplatin to better destroy cancer cells in early trials.
  • Mesothelioma Tumor Research: The program recently developed a new way to analyze frozen mesothelioma tissue samples through microaliquoting. This process involves studying thin slices of the tumor under a microscope to better study a patient’s individual tumors and recommend more effective treatments.

Participating in these studies allows doctors and researchers at the International Mesothelioma Program to better diagnose and treat patients.

Working With the International Mesothelioma Program

It's relatively easy for mesothelioma patients to get care from the International Mesothelioma Program.

Did you know?

Patients can call 617-732-5922 or visit the International Mesothelioma Program’s official site to schedule an appointment.

Getting care from the International Mesothelioma Program will require patients to stay in the greater Boston area for several days or weeks.

In these cases, patients and their loved ones can stay at the Thornton House, a remodeled home close to Brigham and Women’s Hospital that houses visiting mesothelioma patients.

Staff members of the International Mesothelioma Program can help patients better understand these timelines and what to expect from treatment.

Can Veterans Get Treatment From the International Mesothelioma Program?

Yes, veterans with mesothelioma may be able to get treated from the International Mesothelioma Program like civilian patients. Veterans that don’t live in the Boston area can drive or fly in and stay at the Thornton House.

However, some patients may not qualify for treatment. For example, the program only treats pleural mesothelioma patients. Those diagnosed with any other type of mesothelioma will have to get treatment from another facility.

Further, some veterans or civilian patients may be unwilling or unable to travel to Boston for treatment. Thankfully, other treatment centers are located throughout the country. Some are even affiliated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), so veterans can get low-cost or free care if they have VA Health Care.

Contact our team to learn more about accessing mesothelioma treatments no matter where you live. Our registered nurses can help you right now.

Get Help From the International Mesothelioma Program

The International Mesothelioma Program is one of the best treatment programs available for those with this cancer.

Under the guidance of Dr. Raphael Bueno and other cancer specialists, patients — such as veterans with mesothelioma — can live longer and/or with less pain.

As the International Mesothelioma Program continues to treat patients and conduct research, treatment options may improve for those diagnosed in the future.

Our team can help veterans find top treatment options — get a free veterans packet to learn more.

Veterans Support Team
Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

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  2. The International Mesothelioma Program. (n.d.). Clinical trials. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from
  3. The International Mesothelioma Program. (n.d.). Patients and families: Frequently asked questions. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from
  4. The International Mesothelioma Program. (n.d.). Personalized treatment philosophy. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from
  5. The International Mesothelioma Program. (n.d.). The IMP program. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from
  6. Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. (2021, August 25). MesoTV: The surgical approach to meso and how genetics impact treatment. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from