The Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program at the Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center combines research, diagnostics, treatments and supportive care at the highest level.

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Last Updated on August 13, 2019.

About the Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center

Patients with pleural mesothelioma who are looking for hope and a fighting chance against this rare and aggressive disease will find no better place.

The Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia is part of the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, a multiuse, state-of-the-art complex at the University of Pennsylvania.

The National Cancer Institute designated Abramson as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, a prestigious honor that only 48 others have obtained.

Abramson is among the world leaders in the development of CAR T-cell therapy, a type of immunotherapy that reprograms a body to fight cancer. Most experts consider it the future of cancer care.

More than a decade ago, Abramson created the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved immunotherapy, used for treating leukemia. Researchers are expanding the scope through clinical trials to include various other cancers, including pleural mesothelioma.

World-Class Pleural Disease Program

The Pleural Disease Program at Abramson includes world renowned experts in surgical, medical and radiation oncology to provide a multidisciplinary approach to care.

The Program specializes in pleural diseases, asbestosis, mesothelioma and pneumoconiosis of coal miners.

The mesothelioma specialists include:
  • Thoracic surgeon Dr. Sunil Singhal, director of the Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory.
  • Medical oncologist Dr. Evan Alley, chief of Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology.
  • Medical oncologist Dr. Corey Langer, professor of medicine and director of Thoracic Oncology.
  • Surgical oncologist Dr. Giorgos Karakousis, associate professor of surgery.

At the Forefront of Research

The research program helps design cutting-edge treatments for mesothelioma, lung cancer and related disorders.

Abramson has become a major player in clinical trials, which allows it to offer the latest treatment advances, beyond those already approved by the FDA.

There currently are 11 different clinical trials that mesothelioma patients can utilize at Abramson.

Among those:
  • A phase I first-in-human study of a monoclonal antibody in combination with the immunotherapy drug Opdivo (nivolumab).
  • A phase II randomized study of photodynamic therapy in combination with pleurectomy surgery and post-operative chemotherapy.
  • A phase II study examining the safety and efficacy of CRS-207 when combined with pembrolizumab in previously treated patients.

The Abramson Cancer Center, which treats almost all types of cancer, sees more than 9,000 patients annually.

For mesothelioma, there is a wide-range of surgical treatments. They include the aggressive extrapleural pneumonectomy and the pleurectomy and decortication.

There also is the minimally invasive video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, the pleural sclerosis and the thoracentesis.

Treatments also could include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation or photodynamic therapy.