The Swedish Cancer Institute at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle has become the top treatment facility in the Pacific Northwest for pleural mesothelioma.

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Last Updated on August 13, 2019.

About the Swedish Medical Center Cancer Institute

By combining a personalized approach to patient care with scientific advancements and innovative therapeutics, the Swedish Cancer Institute earned its reputation for excellence.

It promotes a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to treatment, along with a philosophy of treating the whole person, and not just the cancer.

“We offer care to our patients here that we would offer to our own families,” thoracic surgeon Dr. Alexander Farivar said. “We offer state-of-the-art, cutting-edge treatment to any patient who comes to see us.”

A Nonprofit Health Care Provider

The Swedish Medical Center is the area’s largest nonprofit health care provider, spanning several hospitals through the state.

The specialized cancer team treating mesothelioma includes medical, surgical and radiation oncologists, along with pulmonologists and a nursing staff with experience in treating this rare disease.

The mesothelioma team includes thoracic surgeons Dr. Eric Vallieres and Dr. Alexander Farivar, medical oncologists Dr. Howard West and Dr. Somasundaram Subramaniam, pulmonologist Dr. Jed Gorden and radiation oncologist Dr. Vivek Mehta.

They meet regularly to discuss each case, making sure every patient is getting the most appropriate treatment and the best chance for extended survival.

The treatment often is personalized through genetic sequencing, which allows the specialists to identify abnormalities in tumor cells that may be specific to an individual.

Instead of the one-size-fits-all treatment that many centers still use, the Swedish Cancer Institute creates customized therapeutics to optimize effectiveness.

“I know we can help patients with mesothelioma feel and breathe better, and enjoy their remaining years,” said Farivar, who trained at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital under mesothelioma treatment pioneer Dr. David Sugarbaker. “That optimism, unfortunately, is not a common belief among physicians.”

Doctors in This Hospital

Alexander Farivar

Specialty: Thoracic Surgery

Eric Vallieres

Specialty: Thoracic Surgery

Focus on Patient-Doctor Relationships

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that is diagnosed in an estimated 3,000 people each year in the United States. Many physicians in the country rarely see it, making it important to find a center that see it and
treats it often.

At Swedish, there is an emphasis on developing a positive patient-doctor relationship, which encourages open dialogue and a better understanding of each situation.

The Swedish Medical Center also is a leader in research, helping develop therapeutics that are now used throughout the country.

More than 100 clinical trials covering a wide variety of cancers are active today at Swedish. Several of those involve the latest immunotherapy drugs, a few of which have shown effectiveness with pleural mesothelioma.

Personalized Approach to Treatment

In addition to the rare cancers like mesothelioma, Swedish treats many more common cancers such as breast, ovarian, prostate, skin, thyroid, kidney, and lung cancers.

The personalized approach, though, doesn’t change.

“There are treatment options for every single patient that can improve their quality of life,” Farivar said. “We’ve come a long way since the days when mesothelioma was considered a disease that could not be treated.”