Anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma today is strongly encouraged to find a specialist who understands the intricacies of the rare cancer. Because the disease is so uncommon – representing only .3 percent of all diagnosed cancers – only a select number of doctors have experience treating mesothelioma.
Finding one of those specialists might be the most important thing a patient and their family can do. These specialists are skilled at putting together an innovative treatment plan that fits your individual case. Mesothelioma treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach anymore, requiring personalized care for the best possible outcome.
“We need to focus on getting these patients to the specialty centers. It could make all the difference for them,” said Joseph Friedberg, M.D., chief of thoracic surgery at the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia. “It’s such a rare disease, and there aren’t a lot of pockets of expertise, but that’s where [patients] need to be.”
Our Specialist Insight Series provides a behind-the-scenes snapshot of these doctors and why they do what they do. Find out why your doctor is special.
The Mesothelioma Center has a Doctor Match program to help you find and get appointments with mesothelioma experts at leading facilities across the country. Patient Advocates strive to find the leading specialists with the most resources to offer mesothelioma patients. Connect with a Patient Advocate or call (800) 615-2270 to take advantage of this free program.
How to Choose Your Mesothelioma Doctor
One of the most important concerns is finding a doctor who you can trust completely with your care. You will want to evaluate the doctor's expertise while also getting comfortable with the head of a team charged with trying to save your life. Here are some questions to ask:
- How many cases of mesothelioma has this doctor treated in his or her career? Have any of these cases been recent?
- What types of mesothelioma does this doctor treat? Has he or she managed any cases of my particular subtype?
- What treatments does this doctor typically use to treat mesothelioma?
- Is this doctor prepared to treat my cancer if it spreads to other parts of my body?
- Does this doctor support any supplemental types of therapy in addition to direct medical intervention?
- Does the facility this doctor is associated with offer access to any clinical trials? Can the doctor help me sign up for any that I might qualify for?
There are also some broad considerations that you should discuss with a potential doctor to make sure that the physician will be a good fit for you. These questions include:
- How many years has this doctor been practicing?
- Do I want this doctor to make decisions for me or simply offer me options?
- Will this doctor respect my choices and address all of my concerns?
- Can I openly communicate with this doctor?
- Does this doctor accept my insurance?
- Is it easy to travel to this facility for all of my appointments?
World-Renowned Mesothelioma Doctors
Several mesothelioma doctors across the nation have emerged as leaders in the field, utilizing the most advanced treatment methods to give patients a longer life expectancy. These doctors often work at prestigious hospitals equipped with cutting-edge technology, and many are involved with ongoing clinical trials. Some of the nation’s most renowned mesothelioma doctors include:
Harvey Pass, M.D.
NYU Medical Center
For assistance making an appointment with one of these mesothelioma doctors or another nationally respected oncologist, please call the Mesothelioma Center at (800)549-0544.
Mesothelioma Experts at Top Treatment Centers
The International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston is one of the most renowned centers in the world. It pushes to develop advancements in multimodal therapy, which utilizes a mix of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. Doctors there include David Sugarbaker, founder of the IMP and the most well-known mesothelioma expert; Scott Swanson, professor of surgery at Brigham & Women’s and pioneer in the development of video-assisted thoracic surgeries; and Raphael Bueno, assistant chief of the IMP and heavily involved in developing novel therapies.
The Mesothelioma Program at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston offers a premier radiation therapy center and is a leader in mesothelioma research with an extensive list of clinical trials. Doctors there include Anne Tsao, program director and well-known leader in thoracic oncology; David Rice, who has helped pioneer developments with radiation therapy; and Stephen Swisher, chairman of the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Department and gene therapy specialist.
The Pacific Meso Center (PMC) in Los Angeles is a part of the Pacific Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and is the West Coast leader in the treatment of mesothelioma. Heading that program is renowned surgeon Robert Cameron, M.D., who first developed the lung-sparing pleurectomy/decortication surgical therapy. Also in Los Angeles is surgeon Jay Lee, director of the Thoracic Oncology Program at UCLA.
The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York has treated more than 1,000 patients with pleural mesothelioma, using a patient-focused approach. The team has developed novel treatments that include intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Heading the cast at Sloan-Kettering are Lee Krug, director of the Mesothelioma Program; Valerie Rusch, the chief of thoracic surgery; and David Illson, oncologist whose specialty is creating new multimodal therapies.