Written By: Karen Selby, RN,
Last modified: August 31, 2021

Top Treatment Centers for Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma develops in the chest and is the most common type of this asbestos-related cancer. Some of the best cancer centers worldwide feature thoracic surgeons and other oncologists specializing in treating this malignancy. These centers also sponsor the latest mesothelioma clinical trials.

Mesothelioma cancer centers distinguish themselves from other facilities by offering pleural-specific treatments such as extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery or Opdivo and Yervoy immunotherapy.

75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115 Doctors in Hospital: 5
6620 Main Street Suite 1325 Houston, TX 77030 Doctors in Hospital: 7
10833 Le Conte Ave Los Angeles, CA 90024 Doctors in Hospital: 3
1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030 Doctors in Hospital: 8
12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL 33612 Doctors in Hospital: 10
2160 S. 1st Ave., Maywood, IL 60153 Doctors in Hospital: 5
1 Gustave L. Levy Place New York, NY 10029 Doctors in Hospital: 4

Top Treatment Centers for Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma forms within the abdominal lining and is the second-most common variant of the illness. Peritoneal mesothelioma centers of excellence focus on specialized resources and treatments such as abdominal surgeries not offered at general cancer facilities.

The best cancer centers for peritoneal mesothelioma offer life-extending hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy combined with surgery. Not all cancer centers have the equipment to perform this procedure. Half of the patients who qualify for this treatment live longer than five years.

110 Irving Street, NW Washington, DC 20010 Doctors in Hospital: 1
5841 S Maryland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637 Doctors in Hospital: 7
540 W Pueblo St, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, USA Doctors in Hospital: 1
5115 Centre Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15232 Doctors in Hospital: 6
3855 Health Sciences Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093 Doctors in Hospital: 2

What Is a Mesothelioma Treatment Center?

Unfortunately, primary care physicians and general oncologists often don’t have the knowledge or resources to provide an accurate diagnosis or specialized mesothelioma treatments. The best hospitals for mesothelioma have dedicated treatment centers that staff doctors, nurses and researchers familiar with this rare disease. 

An essential aspect of a specialized mesothelioma cancer center is a multidisciplinary team of experts, including thoracic oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists and others. Treatment centers with mesothelioma experience curate teams of professional health care providers to offer complete multimodal treatment plans. 

Specially designated treatment centers, such as those recognized by the National Cancer Institute or National Comprehensive Cancer Network, are good indicators of mesothelioma centers of excellence. These centers specialize in the latest research and treatments that offer the best chance to improve a mesothelioma prognosis.

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Best VA Hospitals for Mesothelioma

Veterans represent a disproportionately high number of mesothelioma cases compared to the general public. The VA network includes hospitals specializing in mesothelioma treatment with excellent care on par with top treatment centers for pleural and peritoneal variants.

Once in the VA health care system, a veteran may seek treatment anywhere in the country. Primary care physicians and many other health care providers can provide a referral for specialized care at one of the VA’s best mesothelioma treatment centers.

VA Boston Healthcare System

  • VA Boston is the most high-profile VA facility in the country for treating mesothelioma.
  • Thoracic surgeon Dr. Abraham Lebenthal specializes in mesothelioma and has experience with veteran-specific concerns.
  • The Boston VA is in close proximity to the International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

VA West Los Angeles Medical Center

  • Mesothelioma treatment pioneer Dr. Robert Cameron is the chief of thoracic surgery with a history of treating veterans.
  • The nearby Pacific Mesothelioma Center and the UCLA Comprehensive Cancer Center have a close relationship with VA West Los Angeles Medical Center.
  • VA West Los Angeles is one of the most extensive systems in the VA, serving 1.4 million veterans in the area.

Miami VA Healthcare System

  • Miami VA Healthcare System is home to Dr. Dao Nguyen, a research leader in targeting molecular therapy for pleural mesothelioma.
  • It has a close partnership with the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.
  • Miami VA serves three South Florida counties and treats mesothelioma patients throughout the southeastern United States.

Importance of Choosing a Mesothelioma Specialty Center

Mesothelioma cancer is rare and difficult to treat. Most doctors seldom see it and don’t understand it fully. A mesothelioma-focused specialist does.

Cancer centers with experience treating mesothelioma offer a multidisciplinary approach to care. A multimodal treatment plan means a team of doctors specializing in different disciplines or areas of medicine meet regularly to discuss your personalized treatment plan.

Oncologists at these centers collaborate with other specialists such as surgeons, radiologists, pathologists and palliative care doctors. This collaboration allows them to offer the most comprehensive cancer care possible. A complete treatment plan improves outcomes and extends survival for mesothelioma patients.

Mesothelioma cancer center importance video thumbnail

Watch: Missy Miller, Medical Outreach Director at The Mesothelioma Center, explains why it’s important for a patient to seek treatment from a mesothelioma-specific cancer center.

Mesothelioma Is Often Misdiagnosed

Mesothelioma symptoms are often general and mimic more common diseases, leading many doctors to misdiagnose patients. A mesothelioma misdiagnosis can delay treatment and lead to cancer progression.

The best hospitals for mesothelioma know how to diagnose the disease early and accurately, accounting for a patient’s medical background and history of asbestos exposure. A correct mesothelioma diagnosis from a specialized center allows for prompt treatment that could improve prognosis and extend life expectancy.

Mesothelioma survivor Emily Ward and her dog Little Bit
Every patient should be offered a second opinion at a specialty center because that’s where the research is being done.
Emily Ward
Pleural mesothelioma survivor treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2012

Mesothelioma Requires Specialized Treatment

Surgeries, chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments are integral parts of a multimodal treatment approach. Multidisciplinary teams at specialized mesothelioma cancer centers examine all aspects of a patient’s case and consider all treatment options when developing a treatment plan. 

Today’s best treatments for this cancer are specialized based on mesothelioma cell type, stage and other factors. Mesothelioma therapy is no longer a restricted regimen. A decade ago, the life expectancy for a mesothelioma patient was six to 12 months. Specialized treatment centers can help prolong life for several years after diagnosis.

For example, in 2020, researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston published a study showing improved survival among women with peritoneal mesothelioma who underwent surgery with heated chemotherapy. Approximately 77.8% of women who received the therapy lived longer than five years. 

The Right Care Can Extend Your Life

With treatment from a mesothelioma cancer center, some people live for five years or more. A few dedicated centers treat patients who go on to live for more than 10 years. Accessing care from experts at specialized centers offers the best chance at extending mesothelioma life expectancy. 

Although there is currently no cure, researchers believe mesothelioma will one day be more like a chronic illness that patients can live with for many years. Ongoing research at specialty cancer centers across the country makes that goal possible by offering experimental new therapies for patients at these specialized facilities.

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How to Choose the Right Cancer Center

When deciding on a mesothelioma treatment center, patients and their families have many factors to consider. One of the most notable signifiers of a top mesothelioma cancer facility is accreditation from the NCI Cancer Center Program or the Association of Community Cancer Centers. 

Mesothelioma centers of excellence should also offer the treatments or clinical trials appropriate to your diagnosis. The treatment facility’s reputation, location and expected costs are other essential aspects to consider.  

Top Doctors

An oncologist is a cancer doctor that may treat mesothelioma. However, not all cancer doctors are mesothelioma specialists. It is vital to work with a doctor and health care team who have experience treating asbestos-related cancers. When patients see a mesothelioma doctor, they also receive care by the nurses and staff who work with that physician. 

Many of the country’s best specialist physicians and health care teams work at cancer centers with dedicated mesothelioma programs. These centers offer training to health care providers specific to treating mesothelioma. 

Latest Treatment Options

The options for mesothelioma treatment are similar to those for other cancers. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the most common treatments. Asbestos-related cancers have no cure, but experts in the field are developing new therapies that help patients outlive their prognosis.

Doctors often point patients to emerging therapies and clinical trials for the latest treatments, including gene therapy, robotic surgery and immunotherapy. Specialized cancer centers offer more mesothelioma clinical trials specific to the disease than other facilities.

Top mesothelioma centers also provide access to world-renowned oncologists, surgeons and other experts who offer the latest options in managing symptoms through palliative care. Patients who start palliative care for mesothelioma alongside other treatments tend to control symptoms and side effects earlier and better than patients without palliative care.  

Location

It can be a challenge when it comes to finding mesothelioma treatment near you. Deciding how far to travel for mesothelioma treatment is a crucial decision. The best option for choosing a nationally recognized mesothelioma cancer center is to find one within reasonable travel distance that also offers the appropriate specialties for your cancer type. 

It’s also important to factor in the financial burden when considering the distance mesothelioma patients and their caregivers are willing to travel for treatment. Travel costs add up quickly and include food and lodging costs as well. Traveling to a treatment center for regular cancer therapy should not create a financial, emotional or physical burden. 

Access to Clinical Trials

Top mesothelioma cancer centers have the most options for clinical research trials and new therapy options. Not every patient is eligible to participate in a clinical trial. However, cancer centers often have staff dedicated to research who will help identify whether you are a good match for a mesothelioma clinical trial. 

Clinical research is a good option for patients interested in newer, experimental treatments or those who simply do not respond well to conventional mesothelioma therapy. Not every cancer center participates in every mesothelioma clinical trial, so it’s essential to find a specialized facility that offers the appropriate treatment. 

Treatment Costs and Other Expenses

In addition to travel costs and lodging, insurance coverage is an essential factor in choosing a mesothelioma cancer center. Even with insurance, many mesothelioma patients end up paying thousands of dollars in treatment costs and out-of-pocket expenses. However, there are several resources to help patients cover the cost of specialized therapy. 

Financial assistance available to mesothelioma patients includes travel resources, asbestos-related compensation, housing assistance, awards and grants, medication programs and veteran-specific aid. The Mesothelioma Center’s Patient Advocates connect patients to dozens of financial aid programs that help pay for the best mesothelioma care available.

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Common Questions About Mesothelioma Treatment Centers

What are the best hospitals for diagnosing and treating mesothelioma cancer?

Some of the best hospitals for diagnosing and treating mesothelioma include:

How do I find a doctor who specializes in mesothelioma?

It can be challenging to find a mesothelioma specialist locally because so few doctors specialize in this rare cancer. You can research top mesothelioma doctors in your area but you may have to travel to find a doctor who specializes in your type of mesothelioma.

What is an NCI-Accredited Cancer Center for mesothelioma?

NCI-Accredited or NCI-Designated Cancer Centers have met the rigorous standards for multidisciplinary research focused on new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat mesothelioma. The National Cancer Institute has accredited 71 cancer centers in the U.S. across 36 states.

Do insurance and Medicare work at cancer centers specializing in mesothelioma?

Cancer centers specializing in mesothelioma accept many types of insurance, including Medicare, but the amount covered varies based on treatment type and history. Many patients also pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to cover travel costs, home health care, lost wages and more.

Financial assistance available through asbestos-related compensation, medication programs and clinical trials helps supplement costs not covered by insurance or Medicare.


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