Renowned thoracic surgeon Dr. Rodney Landreneau once hoped the number of pleural mesothelioma patients would have declined significantly by now — decades after the widespread use of asbestos dropped dramatically in America.
But his hope never materialized.
Landreneau, a mesothelioma and lung cancer specialist, and pioneer in treatment advances, remains in high demand today. Last month, he moved back to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he helped carve his reputation as a surgical innovator 25 years ago.
“Unfortunately, there still are a lot of patients being diagnosed with mesothelioma in this area,” he told Asbestos.com recently. “We’re back here to serve them now. We can help them. Advances have been made recently. There was a void that needed to be filled.”
Landreneau is one of the few surgeons in the nation performing the surgical debulking/hyperthermic chemoperfusion combination for mesothelioma patients. It involves removing all visible signs of cancer throughout the thoracic cavity before bathing it with heated chemotherapy drugs to kill any microscopic remains.
Broke New Ground in Louisiana
In 2013, he became the first surgeon to perform the procedure in Louisiana, where he quickly attracted mesothelioma patients to the Ochsner Cancer Center in New Orleans.
He returned to Pittsburgh in October as co-director of the Esophageal and Lung Institute at Allegheny, where he worked before spending almost 20 years at the nearby University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It was at UPMC where he performed the first minimally invasive lung resection in America.
“We are thrilled to welcome back Dr. Landreneau to our organization,” said George Magovern, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. “He is among the world’s pre-eminent thoracic surgeons whose long history of innovation and outstanding clinical work has benefited countless patients.”
Key to Resurgence of Allegheny Health Network
Landreneau is a major player in the recent resurgence of the Allegheny Health Network, which has partnered with Highmark Insurance to become a serious competitor of nearby UPMC.
He joined Dr. Blair Jobe, who was hired in 2013 as the director of the Esophageal and Lung Institute. They became co-directors when Landreneau came aboard. Jobe is widely known for his groundbreaking research and treatment of esophageal disease.
“Under their leadership, we are strongly positioned to be one of the country’s premier referral centers in this highly specialized field,” Magovern said.
Landreneau once played a major role in UPMC’s rise to prominence. He may do the same for Allegheny. He was co-director of the cardiac transplantation program at the University of Missouri earlier in his career.
Mesothelioma Requires a Specialist
He strongly believes that a rare cancer like mesothelioma needs to be treated at a specialty center similar to the one he is developing now at Allegheny.
“To get the best possible care, it’s critical for you to see a thoracic oncologist with a background in this disease, a staff with experience in treating it,” he said. “That’s what we can offer now. This is the ideal setting to pursue continued excellence and innovation in the surgical treatment of thoracic disease.”
He believes that Allegheny will soon be seeing “a couple hundred” mesothelioma patients annually, many from the western regions of Pennsylvania and Virginia where asbestos once was used so extensively by industry.
“Few thoracic surgeons in the world have helped revolutionize our field more over the past two decades than Rodney Landreneau,” Jobe said. “He is a transformative, exceptionally dedicated clinician and medical pioneer whose new role at Allegheny significantly elevates our lung and esophageal disease program.”