Mesothelioma Doctors

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Mesothelioma doctors include surgeons, oncologists and other cancer specialists who specialize in treating pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma. These specialists may know of clinical trials or advance treatment options for mesothelioma which can help improve prognosis.

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Medical Outreach Director Missy Miller explains how we connect people with top mesothelioma doctors.
Medical Outreach Director Missy Miller explains how we connect people with top mesothelioma doctors.

Top Mesothelioma Doctors

Dr. David Sugarbaker, pioneer in the field of pleural mesothelioma treatment

Dr. David Sugarbaker

Lung Institute at Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. David Sugarbaker was regarded as the country’s foremost authority on pleural mesothelioma. He pioneered a surgery that significantly improved survival rates and revolutionized how the cancer is treated. He served as the director of several mesothelioma programs including the International Mesothelioma Program. He died Aug. 29, 2018.

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Dr. Robert B. Cameron, pleural mesothelioma doctor

Dr. Robert B. Cameron

UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Robert B. Cameron developed a lung-sparing surgery for pleural mesothelioma that not only extends survival but offers greater quality of life by preserving the lung. Cameron’s surgery has a lower risk of complications and studies report longer survival times.

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Dr. Abraham Lebenthal, pleural mesothelioma doctor

Dr. Abraham Lebenthal

Brigham and Women's Hospital

Dr. Abraham Lebenthal is a respected thoracic surgeon who treats pleural mesothelioma patients at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Boston VA Hospital. Lebenthal worked alongside Dr. David Sugarbaker at Brigham and teaches at Harvard Medical School.

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Dr. Jacques Fontaine, pleural mesothelioma doctor and expert contributor for Asbestos.com

Dr. Jacques Fontaine

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center

Dr. Jacques Fontaine is the Director of the Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. He specializes in minimally invasive thoracic surgery including robotic surgery. Fontaine became a pleural mesothelioma specialist while studying under Dr. Sugarbaker at the International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

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Dr. W. Charles Conway, peritoneal mesothelioma doctor & expert contributor for Asbestos.com

Dr. W. Charles Conway

Ridley-Tree Cancer Center

Dr. W. Charles Conway is an expert in peritoneal mesothelioma and the Director of Surgical Oncology at Ridley-Tree Cancer Center in Santa Barbara, California. He specializes in minimally invasive robotic surgery and heated chemotherapy for peritoneal mesothelioma.

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Dr. Paul H. Sugarbaker, peritoneal mesothelioma doctor

Dr. Paul H. Sugarbaker

Washington Cancer Center

Dr. Paul Sugarbaker is the country’s leading expert on peritoneal mesothelioma. He developed the widely renowned cytoreductive surgery and heated chemotherapy technique that changed the landscape of peritoneal cancer treatment. Many people with peritoneal mesothelioma are alive today because of Sugarbaker’s innovations.

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Dr. J.F. Pingpank Jr., peritoneal mesothelioma doctor

Dr. J.F. Pingpank Jr.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Dr. J.F. Pingpank Jr. is a peritoneal mesothelioma expert who advocates for regional therapy. The approach applies treatment locally around the cancer to limit damage to the rest of the body. Pingpank specializes in cytoreductive surgery and heated chemotherapy.

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Dr. Sophie Dessureault, peritoneal mesothelioma doctor

Dr. Sophie Dessureault

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center

Dr. Sophie Dessureault is an award-winning surgical oncologist who specializes in peritoneal mesothelioma. She was a lead surgeon for a clinical trial that reported on the benefits of cytoreductive surgery and heated chemotherapy in peritoneal mesothelioma patients.

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Dr. R. Taylor Ripley, Director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor College of Medicine

R. Taylor Ripley, M.D.

Director, Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor College of Medicine at Lung Institute at Baylor College of Medicine

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Jason P. Shaw, M.D.

Director of General Thoracic Surgery at Maimonides Medical Center

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Dr. Kiran Turaga, Surgical Oncologist

Kiran Turaga, M.D.

Surgical Treatment of Abdominal and Peritoneal Diseases at University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center

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Dr. Aaron Mansfield - Medical Oncologist

Aaron S. Mansfield, M.D.

Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Immunotherapy at Mayo Clinic Minnesota

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Dr. Robert Ramirez, Medical Oncologist

Robert Ramirez, M.D.

Lung Cancer, Pleural Mesothelioma, Research at Ochsner Medical Center

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Dr. Jack A. Elias, Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale University

Jack A. Elias, M.D.

Internal Medicine: Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at Yale New Haven Health Smilow Cancer Hospital

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Dr. W. Charles Conway, peritoneal mesothelioma doctor & expert contributor for Asbestos.com

W. Charles Conway, M.D.

Peritoneal surface malignancies, complex oncologic surgeries at Ridley-Tree Cancer Center

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Dr. Betty Tong, Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Betty Tong, M.D.

Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at Duke Cancer Center

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Dr. Nathan Pennell, Medical Oncologist

Nathan Pennell, M.D.

Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer, Clinical Trials at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Institute

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Dr. Neil Christie, Assistant Professor of Surgery

Neil Christie, M.D.

Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

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How to Choose a Mesothelioma Doctor That’s Right for You

One of the most important concerns when choosing a doctor is finding one you can trust completely. You will want to evaluate the doctor’s expertise and decide if you trust their approach.

  • Find a doctor you can trust and communicate with clearly. Consider their experience with mesothelioma and credentials.
  • Make sure the doctor works in a multidisciplinary fashion, meaning the mesothelioma surgeon and mesothelioma medical oncologist work together as a team in the same hospital.
  • Evaluate the cancer center and the treatment options they offer. Ask if they offer mesothelioma clinical trials.
  • Learn which mesothelioma doctors are covered by your insurance plan.

Many mesothelioma patients seek second opinions from other mesothelioma doctors to consider other treatment options and access different clinical trials.

Christi, Keith and family

“Thank you, Missy. Thank you for helping us find such a thorough doctor who double-checked pathology and determined what we are dealing with. We appreciate you and your help more than you know. I want you to know the significant impact you have made on our lives, and I am certain numerous others’. We have many blessings to be thankful for, and you are one of them.”

Why It’s Important to Speak to a Mesothelioma Doctor

Treating mesothelioma is a delicate and time-sensitive process. The cancer tends to spread quickly.

Mesothelioma is rare. It may be misdiagnosed as other cancers or less serious conditions. Early diagnosis and treatment can have a significant effect on a patient’s prognosis and life expectancy.

The treatment of mesothelioma is complex, and sometimes, requires a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. It is important to see a mesothelioma expert who works as part of a multidisciplinary team, which usually includes a surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist, all of whom specialize in mesothelioma.

That familiarity helps doctors connect with the patient and form the best mesothelioma treatment plan possible.

It is also important to choose a doctor who specializes in your particular type of mesothelioma. A surgeon specializing in pleural mesothelioma cancer wouldn’t be the ideal choice for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma.

Many mesothelioma survivors credit their specialists for their extended life expectancy. They travel long distances to continue treatments and checkups with their doctor.

LEARN MORE ABOUT MESOTHELIOMA SPECIALISTS

Pleural Vs. Peritoneal Doctors

Mesothelioma doctors become experts in one of the two most common forms of mesothelioma — pleural or peritoneal — because they require different types of treatment.

  • Pleural surgeons: Specialize in thoracic surgery.
  • Peritoneal surgeons: Specialize in gastrointestinal surgery.
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What to Expect During the Initial Appointment

At your initial appointment you can expect the doctor or team of doctors to discuss your medical and work history, the details of your diagnosis and your treatment options.

Your doctor may go over test results with you, including showing you imaging scans of where tumors are located and explaining the pathology report.

You can expect a detailed discussion of your treatment options, including the benefits, risks and side effects of different therapies. There will be time for you to ask questions and decide upon a treatment plan with your doctor.

You don’t have to decide on anything that day, but you do want to begin treatment as soon as possible. Coming prepared to your first appointment will help you make the most of the time you have with your doctor.

What to Bring for the Appointment

  • A detailed summary of your medical and work history, including any asbestos you may have been exposed to in the workplace.
  • A hard copy of your medical records and a CD of your recent scans.
  • A timeline describing your symptoms and when they developed.
  • A list of medications you take, including prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines.
  • A list of questions you have about your diagnosis, treatment, clinical trials and recovery.
Dr. Fontaine explains why choosing a mesothelioma specialist is so important.

Common Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Once you choose a mesothelioma doctor, you will likely still have plenty of questions that need answering. Every mesothelioma doctor is different. Each may have a unique way of relaying information or answering questions.

Raeleen Minchuk, Peritoneal mesothelioma survivor diagnosed in 2014
Raeleen Minchuk Peritoneal mesothelioma survivor diagnosed in 2014

“You have to trust somebody who’s going to tell you that you have a 50% chance of not coming off the operating table. They have to sell themselves to you, too.”

Don’t shy away from tough questions. Take a notepad or journal with you to help you remember and organize important dates, facts and other useful details.

One of the most common questions asked: Chance of survival. After a specialist knows the stage and type of mesothelioma you have, they will be able to provide your estimated mesothelioma prognosis and life expectancy. However, no matter how good the doctor is, they cannot predict your particular life expectancy. They can only estimate averages. Some patients beat the statistics and live longer than the average, while some may live less than the average.

This can lead to other important questions about your treatment options and the goal of treatment. However, not every patient feels this information will benefit them. It’s OK to decide to not ask about survival rates or your personal prognosis.

Questions to Ask at Your Doctor Appointment

  • How long have you been treating mesothelioma?
  • How many cases do you treat a year?
  • What’s the longest survival you’ve seen among your mesothelioma patients?
  • How do you prefer to be reached? By phone or email?
  • Do you recommend any complementary therapies such as exercise or nutritional changes?
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Dr. Jacques Fontaine

Thoracic Surgeon & Contributing Writer

Dr. Fontaine is a thoracic surgeon who joined the Moffitt Cancer Center in 2011 and quickly moved into a leadership role as the director of the Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center. He also holds an appointment as an associate professor of surgery at the Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida.

Walter Pacheco, Managing Editor at Asbestos.com
Edited by

7 Cited Article Sources

  1. Ridley-Tree Cancer Center. (2017). W. Charles Conway, II, MD, FACS. : 
    Retrieved from: https://www.ridleytreecc.org/cancer-center/healthcare-providers/provider/profile/w-charles-conway-ii-a19f
  2. Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (n.d.). Abraham Lebenthal, MD. : 
    Retrieved from: https://physiciandirectory.brighamandwomens.org/details/1827/abraham-lebenthal-thoracic_surgery-boston-west_roxbury
  3. UCLA Health. (n.d.). Robert B. Cameron, MD. : 
    Retrieved from: https://www.uclahealth.org/robert-cameron
  4. Moffitt Cancer Center. (n.d.). Jacques-Pierre Fontaine, MD. : 
    Retrieved from: https://moffitt.org/providers/jacques-pierre-fontaine/
  5. Sugarbaker Oncology Associates. (n.d.). Dr. Paul H. Sugarbaker, FACS, FRCS. : 
    Retrieved from: http://www.sugarbakeroncology.com/
  6. U.S. News & World Report. (n.d.). Dr. James Pingpank. : 
    Retrieved from: https://health.usnews.com/doctors/james-pingpank-4407
  7. Moffitt Cancer Center. (n.d.). Sophie Dessureault, MD, PhD. :  Retrieved from: https://moffitt.org/providers/sophie-dessureault/
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Last Modified November 6, 2019

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