What Is Pulmonology and Its Subspecialties?

Pulmonology is a medical specialty and a subspecialty of internal medicine that focuses on diagnosing and managing disorders of the respiratory system. This includes the lungs, upper airways, thoracic cavity, and chest wall. Pulmonology is a brand of internal medicine and typically involves managing patients on life support or mechanical ventilation.

A pulmonologist can also help treat complicated respiratory diseases, such as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust and can start in the chest cavity, thoracic cavity, or abdomen. In rare cases, mesothelioma can occur in the testes. Because of its rarity and severity, patients often see a lung specialist or pulmonologist to assist with their lung-related disease. Other diseases involving pulmonology may include pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, or severe chest infections.

Pulmonary medicine has been around for hundreds of years, yet evolved in its own medical specialty in the 1950s, when William Welch and William Osler founded the American Thoracic Society, created to study and prevent tuberculosis. Phthisiology, a subspeciality of pulmonology, was then born to further development and treatment of tuberculosis.

The pulmonology field involves various clinical procedures, including the investigations of blood and arteries. Using pulmonary function tests, Pulmonologists investigate blood tests, lung volume, and lung functions. These tests may include biopsies, chest x-rays, CT scans, scintigraphy, polysomnography, or positron emission tomography.

Other subspecialists of pulmonology include cystic fibrosis, interstitial lung disease, interventional pulmonology, pulmonary hypertension, lung transplantations, and sleep disorders.

What Is a Pulmonologist?

A pulmonologist, or a pulmonary disease specialist,  is a medical doctor that specializes in the field of pulmonology. Through proper training and knowledge, pulmonologists have developed the proper skills in diagnosing and treating lung diseases. Mesothelioma pulmonologists are qualified to diagnose and assist in the treatment of the asbestos-related disease. 

Pulmonologists must complete a three-year internal medicine residency before completing a two-year pulmonology fellowship. After completing the proper training, pulmonologists become board certified to begin practicing pulmonary medicine.

Mesothelioma specialists who are pulmonologists may work in their own office or on a team of top mesothelioma doctors who specialize in other areas. In hospital settings, pulmonologists often work in the intensive care units. While serious lung disease procedures often require a chest surgeon, a pulmonologist can perform thoracentesis to remove fluid from the pleural space around the lungs. Often, pulmonologists perform research in clinical trials, where they find new or improved ways to diagnose and treat diseases like mesothelioma.

Can a Pulmonologist Help With Peritoneal and Pleural Mesothelioma?

A mesothelioma patient’s cancer care team may consist of a pulmonologist. A multidisciplinary team of mesothelioma specialists work together to create the best treatment plan following a mesothelioma diagnosis. Pulmonologists play an important role in a patient’s mesothelioma journey. They utilize various tests of the respiratory system to find problems. Mesothelioma patient’s should see a pulmonologist to accurately find where the disease exists using chest x-rays or CT scans.

Patients with mesothelioma or asbestosis may see a pulmonologist for certain treatments including oxygen therapy. Some asbestos-related diseases prevent patients from absorbing oxygen into the bloodstream from the lungs. A mesothelioma pulmonologist can administer supplemental oxygen through oxygen therapy.

A mesothelioma pulmonologist may prescribe medications that thin the airways and clear up buildup to improve breathing. Additionally, a pulmonologist can prescribe pain relievers or antibiotics to help fight infections in cancer patients.

How Do Pulmonologists Diagnose Mesothelioma?

Pulmonologists diagnose diseases using various tests. A doctor may refer a patient to a pulmonologist if they are experiencing trouble breathing or delivering oxygen to the bloodstream. Imaging tests, such as x-rays, can determine the cause of breathing issues.

Additionally, a pulmonologist administers breathing exercises to determine the volume of oxygen entering the lungs and the overall lung function. A mesothelioma pulmonologist may diagnose and treat a mesothelioma patient experiencing breathing problems. Treatment may include breathing exercises, prescription drugs, or surgical procedures to remove fluid buildup.

Notable Mesothelioma Pulmonologists

Andrew Haas

Pulmonary Oncologist

Dr. Andrew Haas is a board-certified pulmonologist and orthopedic surgeon who specializes in mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Considered one of the best mesothelioma doctors in the United States, Haas serves as the Director of Interventional Pulmonology and Thoracic Oncology, Bronchoscopy Directory, and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cassandra M. Braun

Pulmonologist

Dr. Cassandra M. Braun is a pulmonologist at Mayo Clinic, which is one of the top medical centers for mesothelioma treatment. Braun specializes in a variety of lung-related issues, including pleural effusion. She routinely performs thoracentesis to remove built-up fluid in the pleural lining. Braun treats patients at the Minnesota Mayo Clinic location.

Anthony R. Lanfranco

Pulmonologist

Dr. Anthony R. Lanfranco is a mesothelioma pulmonologist at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. He serves as the Director of Interventional Pulmonary Fellowship Program, Section of the Interventional Pulmonology and Thoracic Oncology. Lanfranco also serves as the Director of Bronchoscopy and Associate Program Director of Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship.

Francis D. Sheski

Pulmonologist

Dr. Francis D. Sheski specializes in pulmonology and respiratory care for the University of Indiana Health Physicians Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine. As a pulmonologist and one of the top mesothelioma doctors, Sheski treats various asbestos-related diseases that affect the lungs.

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