The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa unveiled its Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center in 2012, providing an official umbrella to the outstanding multidisciplinary work Moffitt has been doing with this disease for many years.
Regarded as one of the top cancer care facilities in the country, Moffitt began this specialized program within its department of thoracic oncology, trumpeting a group of physicians with expertise in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.
The belief is that patients throughout Florida don’t have to travel to Boston or New York anymore to get the best possible care for mesothelioma. It’s already close to home.
Moffitt oncologist Dr. Scott Antonia, chairman of the thoracic oncology department and a leader of the immunology program at Moffitt, had this to say:
Some of these well-known facilities are very good and have decades of outstanding experience in treatment of mesothelioma. But there are other places around the country doing innovative things, too. We’re one of them.
Antonia is also the leader of the mesothelioma program at Moffitt, joining medical oncologist Dr. Tawee Tanvetyanon, surgical oncologist Dr. Jacques Fontaine, and radiation oncologist Dr. Craig Stevens as department heads.
Together, they provide the multidisciplinary approach that is imperative in successful treatment of the disease, which is diagnosed in an estimated 3,000 patients annually in the United States. The group meets regularly to discuss each individual case, making sure every patient receives a well-coordinated treatment plan.
“We function as a team. And that’s absolutely key in providing the best possible care,” Antonia said. “Under one roof, everyone is pulling in the same direction with the same goal.”
The team also includes pathologists, pulmonologists, nurses, nutritionists and social workers.
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Among the wide range of cutting-edge mesothelioma treatment options available to patients at Moffitt, the following are commonly used at the center:
Moffitt’s Mesothelioma Treatment and Research Center also puts a strong emphasis on developing novel treatment options through clinical research.
In October 2012, Moffitt joined the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in a phase Ib study involving a CRS 207 vaccine and immunotherapy for mesothelioma patients. Moffitt also is in the midst of a phase III study of NGR-TNF, a treatment engineered to kill mesothelioma tumor cells.
Moffitt has been a leader in cancer research for many years. The center is designated by the NCI as one of the country’s select Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a testament to the research and clinical programs, along with its high standards for excellence in cancer prevention, education, patient care and basic science.
For 13 consecutive years, U.S. News and World Report listed Moffitt as one of the nation’s best hospitals for cancer treatment. Moffitt’s peer-reviewed grant funding exceeds $75 million, which includes a prestigious Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant in lung cancer. Since first opening its doors in 1986, Moffitt has partnered with the University of South Florida in Tampa to provide teaching opportunities.
The ultimate goal at Moffitt is the prevention and cure of all cancer types, providing leadership in the field.
Moffitt and Stevens are considered pioneers in the development of his specialty: Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) for mesothelioma. It allows safe delivery of high doses of radiation to cancerous tumors while reducing any harmful effects of surrounding healthy tissue.
Stevens published the first papers in 2002 on the use of IMRT. His research was highly acclaimed and led to popularizing his techniques, which he has developed and improved in recent years.
“To make advances in the treatment of mesothelioma, you have to be willing to innovate,” Fontaine said. “And our patients benefit from this approach. Collaboration is so key to what we do. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer, but we can treat it aggressively now.”
Disclaimer: H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center has no professional affiliation with Asbestos.com.
Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers.
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