Mesothelioma Treatment Centers

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, you know there are lots of important decisions that lie ahead, but among the most important is where to receive cancer treatment.

Pleural mesothelioma is a rare and complex cancer, and survival can depend on whether patients are treated at a cancer center that specializes in this disease. Patients need a doctor who has experience treating asbestos cancer in order to improve their prognosis.

"This isn't lung cancer; you need an expert," said Dr. Hedy Kindler, director of the mesothelioma program at the University of Chicago Medical Center. "It's important to have people who are comfortable with the disease."

Cancer centers that can treat mesothelioma are spread across the country, although some patients may need to travel long distances to receive treatment. One major advantage of a cancer center with expertise in mesothelioma is the personalized approach to treatment you will receive. Treatment is often part of a multimodal approach that includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Typically, the sooner it can begin, the better you will respond.

"That's where these patients need to be. We need to focus on getting them to the specialty centers," Dr. Joseph Friedberg, chief of thoracic surgery at the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia, said during a 2013 gathering of medical professionals and mesothelioma patients.

"It's such a rare disease that there aren't a lot of pockets of expertise." Patients who receive treatment at a specialty center may be able to extend their lives considerably. There are some patients who live years after their diagnosis.

"I still am amazed at the number of people who do not get referred to a specialty center," said Dr. Richard Alexander, a surgeon at the Greenebaum Cancer Center at the University of Maryland. "Patients should take the initiative to find out where to go for experienced and expert advice."

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TREATMENT CENTERS FOR VETERANS

Nearly 30 percent of pleural mesothelioma cases involve veterans. This is because veterans were heavily exposed to asbestos on ships, armored vehicles, sleeping quarters and military bases while on duty – and when they left the military, they were exposed again because they worked in jobs similar to their service ratings.

With access to the VA health care system, veterans can seek treatment anywhere in the country. The Boston VA Healthcare System, for example, is affiliated with nearby Brigham and Women's Hospital, one of the leaders in mesothelioma treatment. Experienced and nationally renowned surgeon Dr. Abraham Lebenthal works at both facilities and specializes in treating mesothelioma.

The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System has renowned thoracic surgeon Dr. Robert Cameron, a pioneer in mesothelioma treatment who also works with the UCLA Medical Center.

Veterans are eligible for VA benefits if they received a discharged or release under any condition, except dishonorable.

Other eligibility requirements include:
  • Length of service
  • Income level
  • Number of dependents
  • Proof of asbestos-related disease
  • Availability of current VA resources

Benefits of seeking treatment at a VA center include disability compensation, Dependants and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and assistance with filing a hassle-free claim with the VA.

If you are a veteran and have questions about mesothelioma treatment centers or VA benefits, the Pleural Mesothelioma Center’s Veterans Department can help.

HOW TO FIND A SPECIALIST

Because pleural mesothelioma is rare — roughly 2,500 people are diagnosed annually in the United States — many cancer centers do not have mesothelioma specialists on staff. The key is finding a cancer center with surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pulmonologists and nurses who all are experienced with treating pleural mesothelioma.

Picking the right center can be tricky because there is so much to consider, including location, an ability to travel, a preferred strategy of treatment, goals and expectations. Patients and their families need to do their homework to find the right fit.

TOP PLEURAL MESOTHELIOMA CANCER CENTERS

Although many of the best centers for pleural mesothelioma are clustered in the Northeast, there are other notable cancer centers scattered throughout the country.

Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston

Boston is home to many leading medical advancements, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is no different. BWH, in partnership with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and a part of the greater Harvard Medical School family, brings top-notch medical care to pleural mesothelioma patients and others diagnosed with a similar pleural condition.

Notable Doctors

  • Raphael Bueno, M.D.
    Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery
    Specialty: Thoracic Surgery
  • Scott J. Swanson, M.D.
    Associate Director of the Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Program
    Specialty: Thoracic Surgery
  • Abraham Lebenthal, M.D.
    Thoracic Surgeon
    Specialty: Pleural Mesothelioma

Notable Programs

  • The International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) focuses on developing state-of-the-art and cutting-edge treatment strategies to extend a mesothelioma patient’s life, and support for patients and their families. The program is the largest of its kind, with about 180 patients and more than 300 consultations annually.

Research

Thoracic surgeons at BWH not only provide high quality surgical care, but they also participate in top-notch research, clinical trails and revolutionary scientific discoveries.

Collaborative research studies include emerging targeted cancer treatments, tissue analysis and the development of biomarkers to discover a more accurate prognosis and diagnosis, investigating new options for treatment, aid in reduction of post-operative stay to promote recovery, improving quality of life by studying lifestyle and reduce morbidities before and after surgery and studying more new and more precise surgical approaches.

Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston

The Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s affiliation with Harvard Medical School and partnership with Brigham and Women's Hospital, provides cancer patients with the expertise of leading cancer specialists. It receives $500 million in research grants each year. The facility offers outpatient care, while inpatient care is offered at Brigham and Women's. The same team of specialists works at both sites.

Notable doctors

  • Pasi A. Janne, M.D.
    Associate Professor of Medicine, Medical Oncologist
    Specialty: Thoracic Oncology
  • Bruce Johnson, M.D.
    Director, Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology
    Specialty: Medical Oncology

Notable programs

  • International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) located in Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Adult Survivorship Program, a member of the LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence Network

Research

Dana Farber Cancer Institute focuses on clinical research with its 19 core research facilities and a number of research collaborations that include Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health and four of its affiliated hospitals. Its focus is to develop a better understanding of the basic biology of this disease, which will help to develop more effective treatments.

Through its in-depth research, the cancer institute has studied and learned more about how mesothelioma tumors grow, how to treat tumor growth, the effects of different combinations and dosages of treatment drugs, and how to administer treatments with fewer side effects than standard methods such as chemotherapy.

Ochsner Cancer Institute, New Orleans

The Ochsner Cancer Institute is known for its multidisciplinary care that includes a collaborative approach among physicians, oncology nurses, researchers, social workers and other health care professionals to develop its outstanding patient care, research and education. The Ochsner Healthcare System includes 40 health centers and more than 900 physicians in more than 90 medical specialties, including mesothelioma.

One of the most recent advancements at Ochsner is an emphasis on improving and developing new treatment options for pleural mesothelioma patients.

Notable Doctors

  • W. Charles Conway, M.D.
    Surgical Oncologist
    Specialty: Peritoneal surface malignancies, complex oncologic surgeries
  • Alberto de Hoyos, M.D.
    Thoracic and Cardiac Surgeon
    Specialty: Cardiothoracic Surgery

Notable Programs

  • The Ochsner Community Clinical Oncology Program gives patients the opportunity to participate in clinical trails developed by collaborative groups from around the country

Research

Ochsner Cancer Institute, partnered with the nearby LSU Health Sciences Center, focuses its research efforts on new cancer treatment methods, improving current cancer treatments and increasing prevention methods. The cancer institute’s dedication and innovation in research has not gone unnoticed. The National Cancer Institute named Ochsner a Community Clinical Oncology Program in recognition of its work.

Ochsner has been involved in cutting-edge clinical trials for decades and has the largest clinical trail program in the New Orleans area. These trials focus on a number of cancer types, including lung, breast, brain, prostate, pancreatic, and head and neck cancers.

UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles

The Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) at the University of California, Los Angeles, is recognized internationally for its innovative cancer research. It was named U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Medical Center" in the Western states.

The JCCC established its reputation from its integration with UCLA, a research and teaching university with state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and tools, its focus on developing new treatment options and its advancements in experimental and traditional treatments. At JCCC, pleural mesothelioma patients meet with a team of specialists who develop a personalized treatment plan. Among those specialists are Drs. Robert Cameron, Mary Maish and Jay Lee.

Specialists in surgery, medical oncology, nursing and pathology work together to develop new treatment options, run clinical trials, conduct groundbreaking research, educate others on cancer prevention and create tailored care for each patient. The experienced specialists at MSKCC include Dr. Valerie Rusch, chief of thoracic service.

Notable Doctors

  • Robert B. Cameron, M.D.
    Thoracic Surgeon Specialty: Cardiothoracic Surgery and Surgical Oncology
  • Jay M. Lee, M.D.
    Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery; Associate Professor of Surgery
    Specialty: Thoracic and Cardiac Surgery

Notable Programs

  • A Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program designed to offer innovative surgical options and postoperative therapy solutions
  • The Thoracic Oncology Program and the Division of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery within in Lung Cancer Program provides a team of specialists that develop a personalized treatment plan

Research

The Lung Cancer Program at JCCC was one of seven cancer programs awarded the NCI's Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE), a grant that promotes collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research. The program’s researchers developed a number of targeted cancer treatment drugs including Tarceva, for lung cancer, as well as drugs to treat leukemia and breast cancer.

MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston

The MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas is a national leader in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancers and pleural mesothelioma. Between 2001 and 2011, it was named U.S. News and World Report’s "Best Hospital for Cancer Care" eight times.

MD Anderson’s thoracic center consists of a team of more than 30 medical professionals, including surgeons, oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists and pulmonologists, who are experts in their specialty fields and mesothelioma. In addition, the cancer center receives significant funding for research, which enables it to pioneer remarkable advances in the fight against cancer.

Notable Doctors

  • David C. Rice, M.D.
    Assistant Professor of Medicine
    Specialty: Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
  • Anne Tsao, M.D.
    Director, Mesothelioma Program
    Specialty: Medical Oncology
  • Stephen Swisher, M.D.
    Department Chair for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
    Specialty: Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery

Notable Programs

  • The Mesothelioma Program in the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology is one of the largest of its kind in the country, which includes the Mesothelioma and Thoracic Chemo-Radiation Program

Research

MD Anderson is responsible for research in areas that include new, precise methods of diagnosing; targeted radiation therapy that kills cancer cells, while causing minimal damage to healthy cells, and novel targeted agents to increase the body’s chance to fight the disease. The cancer center has participated in more than 600 research projects and offers patients clinical trails focused on diagnosing, preventing and treating cancer.

The NCI has awarded MD Anderson 12 SPORE grants based on their groundbreaking research.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pennsylvania

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is ranked as one of the top 25 best hospitals for cancer care in the U.S. It has one of the largest and most extensive cancer center networks, with more than 2,000 cancer physicians, scientists and other health care specialists, and 39 affiliates nationwide. UPMC’s partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) allows it to make significant advances in cancer research, diagnosis and treatment.

UPMC is equipped with a mesothelioma specialty care center to treat patients with this rare disease. It is comprised of specialists in thoracic surgical oncology, radiology, pathology, pulmonology palliative care and pain management. Pleural mesothelioma specialists include Drs. Neil Christie and Matthew Schuchert.

Notable Doctors

  • David L. Bartlett, M.D.
    Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology
    Specialty: Surgical Oncology
  • J.F. Pingpank Jr., M.D.
    Associate Professor of Surgery
    Specialty: Peritoneal Mesothelioma
  • Matthew Schuchert, M.D.
    Thoracic Surgical Specialist
    Specialty: Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Neil Christie, M.D.
    Assistant Professor of Surgery
    Specialty: Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery
  • James Luketich, M.D.
    Chief, Division of Thoracic and Foregut Surgery; Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery
    Specialty: Thoracic Surgery

Notable Programs

  • The lung and esophageal cancer treatment program provides patients access to a team of thoracic surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists and pulmonologists who employ a comprehensive, yet individualized treatment plan
  • The mesothelioma specialty care center specializes in the treatment of pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma

Research

Research and clinical trials are an integral part of UPMC’s cancer centers. Its research has won numerous awards, including a Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant. Its research focuses on pioneering new cancer treatments, learning more about the biological basis of cancer growth, identifying biomarkers to improve prevention and diagnostic techniques, and developing novel therapeutic treatment options. UPMC’s clinical trials are largely based on cancer prevention, detection and treatment.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia

Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC) is a renowned, independent, nonprofit facility dedicated to research and the treatment of cancer, including mesothelioma. It is one of 41 treatment centers in the U.S. classified as Comprehensive Cancer Centers by the National Cancer Institute and it has won Noble Prizes in medicine and chemistry.

FCCC offers pleural mesothelioma patients the most sophisticated surgery, radiation and diagnostic imaging technology, and access to a number of clinical trials aimed at better treatment options to increase life expectancy. In addition, new advanced techniques such as induction therapy, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) and robotic-assisted thoracic surgery are available.

Notable Doctors

  • Prashant C. Shah, M.D.
    Attending Surgeon, Division of Thoracic Oncology
    Specialty: Thoracic Surgery
  • Joseph Treat, M.D.
    Internist, Medical Oncologist
    Specialty: Medical Surgery
  • Stacey Su, M.D.
    Attending Surgeon, Thoracic Surgery
    Specialty: Thoracic Surgery
  • Gregory Lubiniecki, M.D.
    Attending Physician
    Specialty: Medical Oncology
  • Hossein Borghaei, M.D.
    Chief, Thoracic Medical Oncology
    Specialty: Medical Oncology
  • Walter J. Scott, M.D.
    Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery
    Specialty: Thoracic Surgery

Notable Programs

  • The Lung Cancer Treatment Center specializes in treatment of all respiratory conditions, including mesothelioma

Research

At any given time, there are about 200 active research programs underway at Fox Chase, which focus on the overall biology of cancer, preventive methods, developmental therapeutics, immune cell development and cancers that pertain specifically to women. In 2011, there were six active clinical trails for lung cancer patients.

Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

The Center for Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma and Related Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center and its team of clinicians and researchers have earned national recognition for improving the understanding of lung cancer and mesothelioma, and for developing more effective forms of treatment. Its research team is considered among the world’s most accomplished, and allows pleural mesothelioma patients to participate in new clinical trials.

When it comes to treating pleural mesothelioma, the Mesothelioma and Pleural Program offers internationally renowned specialists in oncology, surgery and radiation who collaborate to develop a patient-specific treatment plan. This multidisciplinary approach offers the most advanced and minimally invasive surgical techniques, while providing better outcomes and survival rates.

Notable Doctors

  • Joseph S. Friedberg, M.D.
    Chief of Thoracic Surgery
    Specialty: Thoracic Surgery
  • Daniel H. Sterman, M.D.
    Clinical Director, Thoracic Oncology Gene Therapy Program
    Specialty: Thoracic Oncology
  • Corey J. Langer, M.D.
    Director of Thoracic Oncology
    Specialty: Thoracic Oncology
  • Giorgos Karakousis, M.D.
    Assistant Professor of Surgery
    Specialty: Endocrine and Oncologic Surgery

Notable Programs

  • Penn Medicine's Mesothelioma and Pleural Program
  • Penn's Abramson Cancer Center

Research

The center’s lung cancer, mesothelioma and related disorders research program is dedicated to providing high quality studies to ensure the latest discovery has an immediate effect on improving patient care.

Since Penn's discovery of the Philadelphia Chromosome, which revolutionized cancer treatment, it continues to conduct research focused on the causes of lung cancer and mesothelioma, improving detection methods and learning how to better treat these diseases.

Penn’s thoracic surgeons are responsible for developing a less invasive surgical option that lessens recovery time and for taking part in the pioneering of video assisted surgery (VATS), other minimally invasive techniques, and the use of photodynamic therapy (PDT) in combination with surgery to treat late stage lung cancer.

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, which is known as one of the top cancer centers in the nation, recently unveiled its Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center. The mesothelioma program emphasizes innovative treatment options through clinical research, and pioneered Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) for mesothelioma.

Patients receive a multidisciplinary approach to their care, with a team of specialists devoted to communicating with one another for the duration of the patient’s care to ensure the best possible course of treatment. It not only focuses on treatment, but on total cancer care throughout the patient’s life.

University of Florida Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health

The University of Florida Health Cancer Center is committed to providing the best possible care with the latest medical advancements. Its compassionate nature has led to patient satisfaction scores rising to the top 10 percent in the country.

Patients receive a multidisciplinary approach to their care, with a team of specialists devoted to communicating with one another for the duration of the patient’s care to ensure the best possible course of treatment. It not only focuses on treatment, but on total cancer care throughout the patient’s life.

University of Florida Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health

The University of Florida Health Cancer Center is committed to providing the best possible care with the latest medical advancements. Its compassionate nature has led to patient satisfaction scores rising to the top 10 percent in the country.

UF Health Cancer Center’s Rod Taylor Thoracic Care Center offers advanced thoracic cancer surgery to treat pleural mesothelioma. It also features a multidisciplinary team of specialty trained professionals, including thoracic surgeons, oncologists, pathologists and radiation oncologists who work closely together to develop a treatment plan unique to the patient.

Notable Doctors

  • Jacques Fontaine, M.D.
    Thoracic Surgeon, Mesothelioma Treatment Center
    Specialty: Thoracic Surgery
  • Lary A. Robinson, M.D.
    Director, Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery
    Specialty: Thoracic Surgery
  • Tawee Tanvetyanon, M.D.
    Thoracic Oncologist
    Specialty: Medical Oncology, Hematology
  • Scott Antonia, M.D.
    Chairman, Thoracic Oncology Department
    Specialty: Cellular Immunology

Notable Programs

  • Moffitt's Mesothelioma Treatment and Research Center

Research

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center offers 13 specialized clinical trail programs for various types of cancer. Moffitt's Mesothelioma Treatment and Research Center in particular focuses on discovering novel treatment methods through clinical research including the areas of immunotherapy, drug discovery, experimental therapeutics and ways to better detect and prevent cancer.

The NCI designated the center a Comprehensive Cancer Center largely because of its continued achievements in research. It has also received $75 million in peer-reviewed grant funding, which includes a Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant.

University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center

The University of Chicago’s Comprehensive Cancer Center has been a leader in mesothelioma treatment for more than 20 years. Its program is comprised of scientists, surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, nurses and imaging specialists who understand pleural mesothelioma.

The program takes a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach, with a major clinical interest in mesothelioma. It offers expertise in developing innovative treatment regimens, such as more focused and targeted therapies to significantly extend patient life expectancies.

Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit

The Thoracic Oncology Multidisciplinary Team at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute is among the best in the world and is dedicated to treating cancers of the chest, including pleural mesothelioma.

The team of oncologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, pharmacists, social workers and dietitians has contributed to past clinical trials involving innovative drugs used to treat various chest cancers. The team is also dedicated to the early detection of mesothelioma and continually works on ways to diagnose the disease in its earlier stages, when treatment is more successful.

Notable Doctors

  • Hedy Lee Kindler, M.D.
    Medical Director, Gastrointestinal Oncology
    Specialty: Gastrointestinal Oncology
  • Ravi Salgia, M.D.
    Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Dermatology; Director, Chest Oncology and Thoracic Oncology Research Program; Vice Chair, Translational Research
    Specialty: Thoracic Oncology
  • Wickii Thambiah Vigneswaran, M.D.
    Professor of Surgery; Associate Chief, Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery; Director, Lung and Heart-Lung Transplantation
    Specialty: Cardiothoracic Surgery

Notable Programs

  • The UCCCC Mesothelioma Program

Research

The primary goal at the UCCCC is to research and develop treatment options to improve the overall quality of life of patients and to eradicate mesothelioma as a life-threatening disease. The center’s clinical researchers deliver targeted therapies, such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which involves high-dose, targeted radiation to spare healthy organs.

The center also uses "translational research," which is when laboratory findings are immediately used to test for new treatment methods, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

University of Arizona Medical Center, Tucson

The University of Arizona Medical Center was one of the first to earn the comprehensive cancer center designation by the National Cancer Institute, and it remains the only one in the state of Arizona. It conducts groundbreaking research and is focused on improved treatments of cancers, including mesothelioma.

The center’s Southwest Lung Cancer Program is responsible for detecting, diagnosing and treating pleural mesothelioma patients. The program offers a comprehensive team of specialists who determine a patient’s specific needs and develop a personalized treatment plan. Patients also can participate in clinical trials and gain access to minimally invasive treatment options.

Notable Doctors

  • Linda Garland, M.D.
    Director, Clinical Lung Cancer Program; Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
    Specialty: Medical Oncology
  • Jonathan Daniel, M.D.
    Assistant Professor of Surgery
    Specialty: Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Farid Gharagozloo, M.D.
    Chief of Thoracic Surgery; Chief of Robotic Cardiothoracic Surgery; Chief of Southwest Lung Cancer Program; Professor of Surgery
    Specialty: Robotic Thoracic Surgery

Notable Programs

  • Full Investigator/Cancer Prevention and Control Program

Research

The University of Arizona Medical Center was one of the first in the country to earn the title of a Comprehensive Cancer Center from the NCI. It upholds that title with its research to develop better treatment options and to increase survival rates among cancer patients.

Its research areas include experimental therapeutics, prevention and control, cancer biology, cancer imaging and biobehavioral and social sciences research.

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