Cancer hospitals across the nation provide mesothelioma treatment and services for people diagnosed with this asbestos-related disease. They have specialists — surgeons, oncologists, radiologists and other doctors — who know the intricacies of this complex cancer.
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It takes cutting-edge technology, innovative research and a multidisciplinary team of doctors who have dedicated part of their career to mesothelioma to be considered a specialty mesothelioma treatment center.
Cancer centers that specialize in mesothelioma are among the best health facilities in the world.
According to the 2017 issue of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals for Cancer, several mesothelioma cancer centers made the national list, including the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic and UCLA Medical Center.
Picking the right cancer treatment center might be the most important medical decision you can make. Don't take it lightly. Do your homework to find the best fit for you. Or you can lean on us for help, and we'll walk you through it.
A team of experts and a focus on clinical research is necessary to properly treat pleural mesothelioma. The following cancer centers feature the nation’s best experts in pleural mesothelioma, offer patient-focused care and sponsor the latest mesothelioma clinical trials.
The facilities on this list offer the life-extending HIPEC procedure combined with surgery, which revolutionized standard of care for people with peritoneal mesothelioma. Not all cancer centers have the equipment to perform this procedure. Half of patients who qualify for this treatment strategy live longer than five years.
The rarity of mesothelioma — only an estimated 3,000 Americans are diagnosed year — in comparison to many other cancers is what makes a specialist so important. Most doctors rarely see it and don't understand it fully. A specialist does.
These centers also offer a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, which means a team of doctors specializing in different areas of medicine meet regularly to discuss your care. Oncologists at these centers collaborate with other specialists, such as surgeons, radiologists, pathologists and palliative doctors, to offer the most comprehensive cancer care possible.
Too often with mesothelioma, patients are initially misdiagnosed and begin treatment for a problem they really don't have. Many of the first symptoms of mesothelioma are the same ones that often occur with less serious illnesses. It's why an individual's history of possible asbestos exposure — the cause of mesothelioma — should be communicated early to a physician who understands it.
Surgeries, chemotherapy drugs, radiation treatments — all part of a multimodality approach — can be different for mesothelioma. The best treatments today for this cancer are specialized and no longer a one-size-fits-all regimen. A decade ago, the prognosis for a mesothelioma patient usually meant six to maybe 12 months to live. The specialized treatment centers today are extending lives beyond that prognosis.
There are a growing number of people living for five years or more with the disease. Many of the specialized centers have patients who have lived for 10 years and still are going strong with specialized proper care. Although no cure has been found, there is a belief that mesothelioma one day will be treated like a chronic illness.
Mesothelioma should be treated by an oncologist. However, not all cancer doctors are mesothelioma specialists. Asbestos.com makes it a priority to maintain a database of thoracic surgeons and other physicians who treat patients who have the various forms of mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and asbestosis. We keep in touch with the medical community and report when specialists relocate, such as when Dr. David Sugarbaker relocated from Brigham and Women’s Hospital to Baylor Lung Institute in 2014. Our Patient Advocates can help people find the right specialist.Read About Top Mesothelioma Doctors
In general, the treatment for mesothelioma is much like the treatment for other cancers — surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a combination of the three. Because asbestos cancers are so aggressive, doctors often point patients to emerging therapies and to clinical trials for the latest treatments such as immunotherapy. Cancer centers that specialize in mesothelioma tend to offer more mesothelioma clinical trials than other facilities. We can help you sort through the various options.Review Treatment Options for Mesothelioma
There's no getting around the fact that treating cancer is costly. Even with the best insurance plans, families can go through a financial crisis to make sure that loved ones get the prescribed treatments that could save lives or buy wanted time with family and friends. Even the cost of traveling to a specialized cancer center is a major concern for many families. According to a November 2016 study, Medicare patients without supplemental health insurance spend 23 percent of their income on cancer care. Our Patient Advocates can help you navigate the maze of doctor, insurance and treatment center issues and questions that will arise.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may qualify for financial assistance.
A higher percentage of veterans develop mesothelioma than the general public does, making veterans a group in need of treatment centers. Although their military history makes them eligible for treatment at VA hospitals, that doesn't mean there aren't choices to make. The VA has hospitals that specialize in mesothelioma treatment.
It's crucial to know that fact. Once in the VA health care system, a veteran can seek treatment anywhere in the country, needing only a referral to receive specialized care.
"The most important thing is, if a patient trusts me, if they believe in me. At the end of the day, we're going to a really big battle together. The stakes are pretty darn high. If you don't believe in the person you're going to battle with, if you're not comfortable with him, then you should go with someone else."
Lebenthal specializes in mesothelioma and veterans issues. His own military background plays a role in that interest. Because veterans are disproportionately affected — approximately one-third of all mesothelioma lawsuits in this country are filed by veterans — he has encouraged all veterans with the disease to find him.
The mesothelioma program in Boston often can arrange free or discounted housing. For many veterans, the biggest cost is the travel, but there also are charitable organizations that can help.
"This is not a knock on anyone, but mesothelioma is so complex, and its care so specialized, that a patient really needs the best care in the world," Lebenthal said. "We're in a unique position to offer that."
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