Why Talk to a Mesothelioma Specialist?
Because mesothelioma is so rare, most doctors have never treated a mesothelioma patient before. Even many oncologists — doctors who specialize in treating cancer — haven’t directly dealt with the disease. That’s why it’s vital that you locate a treatment facility with qualified doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating mesothelioma. These care centers offer mesothelioma patients the latest medical technology and cancer treatment options, including access to clinical trials and emerging treatments that may improve a patient’s prognosis or even extend their life.
“How do you pick your doctor? First of all, you need someone who has a lot of experience with mesothelioma. There’s not too many of us out there in the country. Many doctors don’t know how to treat mesothelioma. So you can’t expect a patient, without a medical background to know what’s in their best interest. I think it’s up to the doctor or surgeon to help you figure that out. I think as a patient, you need to figure out, does this doctor get me? Are they seeing me as an individual, or are they just seeing me as mesothelioma? They need to know what you do for a living, what you do every day. What kind of a lifestyle do you have? Are you physically active? What is it that makes you want to live? And then, they should be able to treat you accordingly.”– Dr. Raja Flores
Most of the top medical centers and cancer institutes that specialize in treating mesothelioma are located in large cities such as Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, Houston, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. Some mesothelioma patients will already live near these hubs, but those who live farther away may find it necessary to travel for doctor’s appointments, treatment, and hospital stays. Although this can feel like an added obstacle on top of an already-difficult time, it’s important to find the best care available rather than compromise for the sake of proximity.
Luckily, most major cancer centers that specialize in treating mesothelioma offer patients resources to help make their visits as easy as possible, such as assistance with issues like short-term or long-term housing, as well as information on public transportation, dining, shopping, and more.
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Top Mesothelioma Treatment Centers
Abramson Cancer Center is one of a very select group of cancer centers in the country rated ‘exceptional’ and awarded the prestigious designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. This status has been continuously awarded to the Abramson Cancer Center for more than 40 years.
Penn Medicine’s Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program and Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center bring together internationally renowned experts in medical, surgical, and radiation oncology who collaborate in the diagnosis, treatment, and research of mesothelioma and pleural disease.
Penn’s multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma provides better outcomes and gives you access to the most advanced treatment, surgical techniques, and clinical trials.
The Division of Thoracic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has pioneered mesothelioma care and research over the last two decades. Every year, hundreds of newly diagnosed patients come to BWH for consultation on optimal therapy for mesothelioma. BWH is a founding member of the International Mesothelioma Program, the largest mesothelioma program in the world, distinguished for patient care and research.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s board-certified thoracic surgeons have sub-specialty training and years of experience in mesothelioma, a disease that can be challenging to diagnose. BWH has expertise in the most advanced diagnostic procedures, including cervical mediastinoscopy. Their surgeons perform procedures such as pleurectomy and pneumonectomy using minimally invasive video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) and robotic-assisted technology.
All BWH surgeons are faculty at Harvard Medical School and many are physician-researchers at the forefront of new therapies and cures —advancing their studies from laboratory to direct patient care.
MD Anderson has a team of more than 30 medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, and pathologists — all experts in their fields and in mesothelioma care — working together closely to customize the best treatment for you. A specially trained support team is part of each group.
MD Anderson’s researchers are pioneering remarkable advances to give you the best chance for fighting mesothelioma. Areas of study include more-precise ways to diagnose mesothelioma, targeted radiation therapy that focuses on cancer cells while causing the least damage to healthy cells, and novel targeted agents that help your body fight the disease. The MD Anderson team is constantly testing new boundaries with research. Because of this, they can offer many clinical trials (research studies) of new treatments that are not available at other centers. In fact, the dedicated mesothelioma research program at MD Anderson is one of the few in the world.
And, at MD Anderson you’re surrounded by the strength of one of the nation’s foremost comprehensive cancer centers. MD Anderson has all the support and wellness services needed to treat the whole person — not just the disease.
The Mount Sinai Hospital has one of the top cancer programs in the United States, according to the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals survey. It is a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Center.
Mount Sinai employs a level of clinical experts found only at major academic medical centers. As a nationally recognized teaching medical institution, Mount Sinai offers the most advanced treatments for patients with all types of cancer. The distinguished Mount Sinai cancer care teams — along with teams at their Cancer Network facilities — provide exceptional medical, surgical, and radiation oncology services, as well as emerging treatment options, such as immunotherapy, throughout the metropolitan area. Mount Sinai collaborates with a range of specialized centers and programs to customize a care plan for you to ensure the best possible outcome.
UCLA’s Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program uses lung-sparing surgery and innovative postoperative therapies that stress quality of life as well as survival. Patients benefit from UCLA’s expertise in performing a meticulous procedure (pleurectomy and decortication) that removes all visible tumors from the chest while sparing normal structures, such as the lung, pericardium, and diaphragm. The surgery is followed by precise radiation therapy to eradicate any remaining cancer cells and avoid injury to the preserved lung.
Recognizing that mesothelioma cannot be entirely eliminated from the body, UCLA’s physicians treat it as they would any chronic condition. That means using frequent (often daily) well-tolerated therapies to slow its growth rather than using concentrated, sometimes excessively toxic treatments. UCLA has pioneered the use of therapies such as immunotherapy and cryoablation, which have led to significant advances in the care of patients with this condition. Dr. Robert Cameron founded the program.
The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center has long been a pioneer in the treatment and research of malignant mesothelioma. Their multidisciplinary team of mesothelioma experts offers a full range of tailored treatment options, from surgery and chemotherapy to radiation therapy and clinical trials of promising new treatments.
A key feature of the UC Cancer Center program is the availability of HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion), a targeted treatment that delivers heated chemotherapy directly into the abdomen to kill residual cancer cells after tumor removal surgery. Thanks to this focused expertise, their mesothelioma program is one of the largest in the nation and cares for patients from throughout the United States.
The UC Cancer Center uses a team approach and holds weekly mesothelioma program meetings to discuss each patient’s care. Their comprehensive, patient-centered mesothelioma program includes a dedicated team of medical oncologists, thoracic surgeons, general surgeons, nurses, pathologists, imaging specialists, and scientists who understand the unique characteristics of this disease. A distinctive feature of the program is a dedicated nurse navigator who focuses on coordinating care for mesothelioma patients. UC Cancer Center’s multidisciplinary focus is a direct reflection of their clinical interest in mesothelioma and their expertise in developing novel treatment protocols that extend and improve lives.
University of Pennsylvania Medical Center Hillman Cancer Center is committed to giving you the knowledge, inspiration, and specialty care you need to boldly face your diagnosis. UPMC is the region’s only comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute. And with more than 60 UPMC Hillman Cancer Center locations, you won’t have to travel far to receive world-class treatments backed by best practices and leading-edge protocols.
The Mesothelioma Specialty Care Center at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center provides a comprehensive treatment approach to this challenging disease. The center brings together experts in thoracic surgical oncology, pulmonology, pathology, radiology, pain management, and medical and radiation oncology.
Top Mesothelioma Doctors
Chief of Thoracic Surgery and vice-chair of surgery for cancer and translational research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. Raphael Bueno is a surgical oncologist whose work revolves around discovering innovative mechanisms to both detect and treat thoracic cancers such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. A graduate of Harvard Medical School (1985) and a professor of surgery at Harvard, Bueno is a leader among his peers and was selected as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor in 2013.
Bueno also serves as the program and research director of the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. The largest program of its kind in the world, the IMP integrates a clinical program, research program, and support program all aimed at offering patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma the most advanced treatment strategies available.
Widely published in top-rated, peer-reviewed medical journals, Bueno is a noted lecturer, sharing his expertise as a thoracic surgeon and serving as a principal investigator in several ongoing clinical trials that support his groundbreaking research dedicated to advancing the treatment of patients with lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Currently serving as the director of thoracic oncology at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, Dr. Robert Cameron is also the assistant professor of cardiothoracic and surgical oncology. Cameron earned his medical degree from UCLA where he also completed an oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute as well as a residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Cornell-New York Hospital.
Cameron has conducted extensive research in the areas of thoracic oncology, thoracic pain management, video-assisted surgery,
lung volume reduction surgery and immunology. He currently participates in a number of professional associations and serves as chairman of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.
treatment. Harpole is board certified in thoracic surgery and is a member of a number of professional and medical societies. He is also the author of numerous articles and publications.
Dr. Flores is considered a leading expert in the research and treatment of pleural mesothelioma. Currently chief of thoracic surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, Flores is a graduate of New York University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed numerous internships and residencies including a thoracic oncology clinical research fellowship and residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
therapy for patients suffering from thoracic cancers. In addition, he lectures extensively about the dangers of asbestos use, is a keynote speaker at mesothelioma awareness events, and has been published in countless peer-reviewed journals.
Dr. Abraham Lebenthal specializes in treating pleural mesothelioma. He is a thoracic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Director of Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery at VA Boston Healthcare System-West Roxbury Campus. He is also an instructor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Lebenthal’s research focuses on mesothelioma and benign and malignant diseases of the esophagus. His clinical interests include mesothelioma and esophageal disease, as well as teaching residents and fellows advanced surgical techniques.
Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, director of the Peritoneal Surface Malignancy Program at the Washington Cancer Institute, is an expert in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma using a combination of cytoreductive surgery with intraperitoneal and systemic chemotherapy. Sugarbaker earned his bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College and attended Cornell University Medical School. He also earned a master’s degree in immunology from Harvard University.
Sugarbaker has published a large number of scientific articles, books, and reports and co-authored an article that appeared in The Oncologist entitled“Update on Chemotherapeutic Agents Utilized for Perioperative Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy .”He is also board-certified and a member of several medical societies.
Dr. Anne Tsao is the mesothelioma program director at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas where she specializes in treating mesothelioma and other thoracic cancers. A graduate of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Tsao is board certified in medical oncology and internal medicine. Tsao has been involved in a large number of clinical trials and has conducted scientific research aimed at identifying new mesothelioma treatment protocols.
Flores has led many clinical trials involving the study and treatment of mesothelioma. A notable trial recently completed by Flores studied the use of neoadjuvant gemcitabine and cisplatin followed by extrapleural pneumonectomy and high dose radiation to treat malignant mesothelioma. Another clinical trial led by Flores was profiled in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and focused on the largest series of cases comparing extrapleural pneumonectomy to pleurectomy decortication. Flores is a contributor to many peer-reviewed journals and is active in a number of professional organizations.
A native of Belgium and currently a professor of medicine at the University of Vermont and director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the Vermont Cancer Center, Dr. Claire Verschraegen is a leading expert in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma. Verschraegen has expertise in hematology and oncology and has been involved in numerous clinical trials to evaluate the effectiveness of new chemotherapy drugs on this rare type of mesothelioma cancer. She also specializes in gynecological and appendiceal cancer and devotes much of her time researching new and emerging drugs that may be used to treat these diseases as well.
As a member of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), she has appeared as a keynote speaker at numerous symposiums and conferences. He is a Fulbright Scholar and is the author of many peer-reviewed articles and scientific papers.
Dr. Eric Vallieres is the surgical director at the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle, Washington, and specializes in general thoracic surgery, lung cancer, and pleural disease. He attended medical school at the Université Laval Medical School in Quebec, Canada, and completed a general surgery residency in Ontario at the University of Toronto. Vallieres also completed a fellowship in thoracic surgery at the University of Bordeaux in France.
Vallieres participates in a number of professional organizations and leads several clinical research trials. He is also the author of many articles and abstracts related to lung cancer and pleural disease and a strong advocate for a multidisciplinary approach to treating these illnesses.
A renowned expert on lung cancer and a leader in surgical therapies for thoracic cancers such as pleural mesothelioma, Dr. David Jablons is an ADA Distinguished Professor of thoracic oncology and professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. He is also chief of general thoracic surgery at the UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion.
After earning his medical degree from Albany Medical College of Union University, Jablons completed a surgical residency at Tufts-New England Medical Center and a cardiothoracic fellowship at Cornell University Medical Center. He has authored numerous articles and research papers and receives many requests to lecture about his lung cancer research at conferences and meetings around the world. Jablons leads research at the UCSF Thoracic Oncology Laboratory on the molecular biology and genomics of lung cancer.
As director of the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the H . Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, Dr. Larry Robinson is an expert in the evaluation and treatment of all stages of mesothelioma. Robinson earned his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St . Louis, Missouri, and completed an internship at Duke University Medical Center. After serving as a flight surgeon for the U.S. Air Force, he completed a fellowship in surgical research and a residency in general and thoracic surgery at Duke University.
Robinson has served on the Science Advisory Board of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) and works on numerous cancer research programs focused on advanced
lung cancer and surgical treatment of mesothelioma. He has also authored and co-authored many books, articles, and research papers and has been published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.
Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery, surgical director of the Lung Transplantation Program, and surgical director of the Thoracic Oncology Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Stephen C. Yang has strong expertise in diagnosing and treating diseases of the lung and chest, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. He is also an associate professor of surgery and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Yang earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia, completed his surgical residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, a fellowship at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and a cardiothoracic fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia. He is board-certified in thoracic surgery and is a member of the International Association for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery.
Yang has completed extensive research relating to early diagnosis of lung cancer and esophageal cancer as well as multi-modal approaches to treating the diseases. He also has expertise with video-assisted thoracic surgery, robotic-assisted thoracic surgery, and lung volume reduction surgery for those diagnosed with emphysema. He is also the author of a large number of scientific articles and abstracts.
His clinical research focuses on general thoracic surgery, thoracoscopic surgery, and benign and malignant lung disease.