At the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, thoracic surgeon Dr. Andrea Wolf has become a beacon of hope for patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.
Dr. Andrea Wolf has embraced the challenge that comes with a rare and aggressive cancer, determined to better the lives of those unfortunate few.
The long odds they face only make her more resolute.
She has worked closely with esteemed surgeons Dr. David Sugarbaker and Dr. Raja Flores — both pioneers in the field of mesothelioma — and has incorporated much of what made them so special into her practice.
“I always loved the underdog. If a patient wants to fight, I’ll fight this battle right alongside him,” Wolf said. “It’s the way I was raised. We’ll find something that works.”
Wolf joined Mount Sinai in 2012, focusing on esophageal cancer, mediastinal tumors, lung cancer and malignant pleural mesothelioma.
She has expertise in minimally invasive techniques. She also has performed the most aggressive surgeries for mesothelioma, including the extrapleural pneumonectomy and the lung-sparing pleurectomy and decortication.
She also does laparoscopic surgery for benign and malignant diseases of the chest wall and diaphragm.
As director of the Women’s Lung Cancer Program at Mount Sinai, she has expanded her focus to include clinical research, community outreach and education for all patients.
Wolf co-authored a recent article in the Annals of Translational Medicine detailing why many thoracic surgeons today prefer to use lung-sparing P/D instead of EPP for mesothelioma.
At the heart of her study was an issue she believes is paramount to a treatment regimen.
“Patients should seriously consider the quality of life issue when weighing treatment options,” she said. “To some extent, people look at it as separate from treatment, but in fact, it’s an important component in how patients do.”
She also has been published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Respiratory Medicine and Surgical Oncology. One article detailed why women have a much better survival rate than men with pleural mesothelioma.
She graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Medical School. She was chief resident for Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She also did a fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, training in cardiothoracic surgery.
Although less than 30 percent of those diagnosed with mesothelioma become candidates for surgery, she offers her insight and services to all.
As part of the multimodal treatment of mesothelioma at Mount Sinai, she works closely with radiologist Dr. Kenneth Rosenzweig and a team of experienced medical oncologists.
Mesothelioma has been a priority at Mount Sinai for decades, and Wolf knows well the frustrating history of the disease. She is part of the changing culture that accompanied treatment advances.
She talks often about ending the negative outlook that often still accompanies a diagnosis.
“I’m realistic, and there is good reason to be optimistic today. We can help these patients,” she said. I’m not trying to say everyone does great, but people are successfully treated and do well.”
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