Treatment & Doctors

DaSilva’s International Mesothelioma Program Now Open in Orlando

Written By:
Aug. 12, 2020
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Written By: Dr. Marcelo DaSilva,
August 12, 2020
AdventHealth Cancer Institute Orlando

When I moved to Central Florida and began work as medical director and chief of thoracic surgery at AdventHealth, my goal was to build an internationally recognized program for mesothelioma patients.

Our patient-centric Mesothelioma International Treatment program has now been in operation for over two months, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work we’re doing.

My team and I developed this program through the most challenging parts of the COVID-19 pandemic and were able to accomplish something extraordinary. Working through many virtual meetings to establish this endeavor taught us what we needed to prioritize in the ever-evolving medical landscape.

World-Class Multidisciplinary Team Offers Complete Treatment Options

At AdventHealth Cancer Institute, we’ve brought on physicians with long-standing experience treating mesothelioma across many disciplines, such as respiratory therapist Dr. Tom Berlin, the director of respiratory care services.

Dr. Berlin has worked at AdventHealth for over 10 years, supervising respiratory care for patients with thoracic diseases and respiratory illnesses.

Thanks to his work, the Mesothelioma International Treatment program offers mesothelioma patients respiratory rehabilitation services not found at most other treatment centers.

Very few centers in Florida are available to patients looking for the best in mesothelioma treatment, and even fewer focus on complete patient care. I strived to make Central Florida a destination for malignant pleural mesothelioma patients to receive world-class care close to home.

When I left Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, after working with renowned mesothelioma specialist Dr. David Sugarbaker, I wanted to continue teaching the holistic approach that Dr. Sugarbaker championed.

At AdventHealth, we’re treating the mesothelioma patient as a whole person, not just their disease. Providing complete treatment is what makes a multidisciplinary approach so meaningful and why we strive to include specialists from all disciplines, such as a chief nutritionist concentrating on nutrition and mesothelioma.

A holistic approach means focusing on both the mental and physical well-being of each patient. Nutrition, exercise and rehabilitation are all vital components of treating every patient, and mesothelioma patients are no exception.

The body’s ability to heal should be encouraged, and not replaced, by medicine. Our multidisciplinary team embraces a holistic approach that invigorates and fortifies a patient’s natural healing capability, and the results speak for themselves.

New Mesothelioma Center Sees Success Despite COVID-19 Challenges

Two months ago, I performed the first intraoperative heated chemotherapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma in Orlando. The Mesothelioma International Treatment program made that a reality.

Our team’s experience and skills are providing patients more options and opportunities for the best mesothelioma treatments available.

As COVID-19’s grip on the world took hold earlier this year, many cancer patients were fearful of losing access to their physicians and treatment centers. Many patients who rely on regularly scheduled care and treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, were left without answers.

That’s when my team and I got to work. We assembled through virtual meetings to discuss and plan the opening phases of our international treatment program. It was going to be an uncertain time for patients, so we embraced the responsibility of developing this program for patients to return to when the time was safe.

The amount of time it took for us to finalize our program was inconsequential for patients who were waiting for surgery. Mesothelioma lesions see minimal growth over just a few weeks, so time was on our side as we put our heads down and worked to get the international treatment program off the ground.

Only a couple of weeks after opening, we already had our first handful of patients, and I couldn’t be happier with the success of our team since then.

The Mesothelioma International Treatment program is now able to offer world-class mesothelioma treatment options, such as intraoperative heated chemotherapy, intraoperative radiation and robotic surgery.

Intraoperative heated chemotherapy targets microscopic tumor cells that are too difficult to remove during surgery. Intraoperative chemotherapy for mesothelioma has proved it can stop or slow any cancer recurrence that may occur after surgical intervention.

We can combine this technique with minimally invasive measures, such as robotic surgery for mesothelioma, to reduce side effects and potential complications for patients.

Our team also includes specialists in peritoneal mesothelioma, so we’re able to tackle both the thoracic and abdominal forms of the disease.

The Mesothelioma International Treatment program at AdventHealth Orlando is just getting started. With the advancements in medicine that a multidisciplinary team like ours can accomplish, the future is a bright one for mesothelioma patients.

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