Written By:
Last Modified August 9, 2022
This page features 7 Cited Research Articles
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed

Asbestos.com is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us

Testimonials

"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Lashawn
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating
Read Our Testimonials

Top Mesothelioma Doctors

Abraham Lebenthal
Thoracic Surgeon
Dr. Abraham Lebenthal is a respected thoracic surgeon who treats pleural mesothelioma patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Lebenthal also teaches at Harvard Medical School.
Sophie Dessureault
Surgical Oncologist
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.
Robert B. Cameron
Thoracic Surgeon

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.

Marcelo DaSilva
Thoracic Surgeon
Dr. Marcelo DaSilva is medical director of thoracic surgery at the AdventHealth Cancer Institute, where he has built the Mesothelioma International Treatment Program.
Anne Tsao
Medical Oncologist

Dr. Anne Tsao is the director of the Mesothelioma Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She specializes in medical oncology for mesothelioma and serves as a team leader for a multidisciplinary team of mesothelioma experts.

Raja Michael Flores
Thoracic Surgeon

Dr. Raja Michael Flores is a professor and chairman of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Flores is a widely respected expert in pleural mesothelioma and is a recognized leader in the field of thoracic surgery for pioneering video-assisted surgical techniques for lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Hedy Lee Kindler
Oncologist

Dr. Hedy Lee Kindler is the director of the Mesothelioma Program at the University of Chicago Medical Center. She became a leading mesothelioma researcher and oncologist after losing her father to mesothelioma. Kindler is board certified in medical oncology and internal medicine, and she specializes in gastrointestinal oncology.

Jacques Fontaine
Thoracic Surgeon

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.

R. Taylor Ripley
Thoracic Surgeon

Dr. R. Taylor Ripley is the director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and he was selected by the late Dr. David Sugarbaker to fulfill the role. Ripley specializes in pleural mesothelioma, minimally invasive surgery and robotic surgery.

By submitting, you agree to our privacy policy and disclaimer. Our Patient Advocates may contact you via phone, email and/or text.
By submitting, you agree to our privacy policy and disclaimer. Our Patient Advocates may contact you via phone, email and/or text.

Find a Specialist Near You

Don’t see your state? Find out how our Doctor Match program can help.

What Is a Mesothelioma Doctor?

A mesothelioma doctor is a physician with the knowledge and experience required to diagnose and treat this rare disease. Compared to general oncologists, mesothelioma doctors stay current with the latest research and know the best treatments for asbestos-related illnesses.

Mesothelioma specialists include experts across many disciplines, such as surgery and radiation oncology, who treat asbestos-related cancer. In addition, doctors specializing in mesothelioma cancer have experience with the various subtypes of the disease, such as the pleural and peritoneal variants.

Each variant requires different treatment methods, which general physicians and treatment centers may not provide. For example, pleural surgeons specialize in thoracic surgery, while peritoneal surgeons are experts in abdominal surgery. Therefore, finding the correct mesothelioma doctor for your unique diagnosis can improve prognosis and extend survival.

Pleural Mesothelioma Doctors

A pleural mesothelioma doctor specializes in diagnosing and treating pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the lungs, known as the pleura. Oncologists and other cancer specialists have extensive knowledge of many malignancies but often have little experience with mesothelioma due to its rarity.

  • Pleurectomy and Decortication: Pleural mesothelioma surgeons have specialized training in this surgery. The two-part procedure removes the pleural lining around the affected lung and visible tumor masses from the chest.
  • Extrapleural Pneumonectomy: Mesothelioma specialists perform this aggressive surgery when it is necessary to remove the cancerous lung. This procedure allows for removal of the maximum amount of cancerous tissue but requires months of recovery.
  • Nonsurgical Therapies: Pleural mesothelioma oncologists specialize in the latest treatments, such as Tumor Treating Fields therapy, which uses electrodes on the skin to slow cancer growth. Targeted therapies such as radiation and immunotherapy are also used.

Mesothelioma doctors understand how to diagnose and treat this rare disease. However, while some treatments are common for all types of mesothelioma, many therapies require a specialist familiar with the intricacies of each variant.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Doctors

A peritoneal mesothelioma doctor specializes in diagnosing and treating the mesothelioma variant that develops in the abdominal lining, known as the peritoneum. These doctors have a unique understanding of how mesothelioma affects the digestive system and vital abdominal organs.

  • Cytoreductive Surgery: Peritoneal mesothelioma surgeons specialize in abdominal surgeries that remove peritoneal tumors, including peritonectomy and cytoreductive surgery. Some also perform symptom-controlling procedures such as paracentesis.
  • HIPEC: Peritoneal mesothelioma oncologists work with surgeons to administer heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy throughout the abdomen in a procedure known as HIPEC. This process follows surgery in patients who qualify for the combined treatment.

It is rare for radiologists to specialize in peritoneal mesothelioma. Delivering radiation therapy to peritoneal tumors is dangerous because of the risk of harming nearby vital organs while treating the tumors that grow throughout the abdomen.

Finding a Mesothelioma Specialist

Watch: Tamron Little, a 14-year peritoneal mesothelioma survivor, shares her personal experience with a mesothelioma specialist vs. a general oncologist.

How to Choose the Best Mesothelioma Doctor for You

Choosing a mesothelioma doctor requires going through a list of your specific needs until you find a physician you trust to guide your treatment. It may take several visits to connect with a doctor you feel comfortable communicating with. 

For most patients, searching for a mesothelioma doctor starts with a referral from a general practitioner. However, Patient Advocates can connect you with the most appropriate resources if you require more specialized services, such as a VA practitioner. 

Find a Specialist for Your Specific Cancer Type

Choosing a doctor within a multidisciplinary team is essential, meaning the mesothelioma surgeon and medical oncologist work together in the same hospital to coordinate your treatment. You can learn more about the doctors on your team by visiting cancer treatment centers and asking for more information on their backgrounds. 

The best mesothelioma doctors have several years of experience with specific types of mesothelioma – pleural, peritoneal or otherwise. When you meet with doctors, ask how many years they’ve been in practice and how many cases like yours they’ve treated. They should also be able to tell you what new treatment options are available. 

Look for Specialists Near You

The mesothelioma doctor you choose should be at a cancer center you can reliably visit that isn’t too far away. Traveling for treatment can burden you and your family financially, physically and emotionally. Consider mapping the distance to the office before your visit to estimate travel time.

Before you choose a physician, call ahead and confirm that they are accepting new patients and how soon you can schedule an appointment. Many doctors with limited office hours or long wait lists do not have the accessibility you may want in a new physician. 

Check Reviews and Ask for Recommendations

Specialists should encourage patients to seek second opinions from other mesothelioma doctors. A mesothelioma second opinion allows patients to consider other treatment options and access different clinical trials for mesothelioma that may not be available with their first choice.

Neighbors, friends or families who have relevant medical experience may also be good sources of provider recommendations. Take the time to read online reviews of doctors you’re considering, and note whether the office accepts new patients, speaks your language and provides specialty services. 

Verify That Your Insurance Is Accepted

Learn which mesothelioma doctors are covered by your insurance plan. Verify with the office that the doctor you will be seeing is accepting your specific insurance plan. You can also ask for documentation of the costs for services you will likely receive.

If your chosen provider isn’t in your network, ask for details about the out-of-network burden. Depending on your insurance plan, out-of-network physicians may be an option, but the high cost is likely prohibitive for most patients. 

Ask Key Questions

Every mesothelioma doctor is different, and asking questions is the best way to determine if they’re the right fit for you. Each may have a unique way of relaying information. You can get an idea of their personality based on how they answer your questions.

Patient questions commonly include survival chances and life expectancy, but avoiding these direct questions is OK if you feel they won’t benefit you. Take a notepad or journal to help you remember and organize important dates, facts and other valuable details.

Common Questions to Ask Your Doctor
  1. How long have you been treating mesothelioma?
  2. How many cases do you treat a year?
  3. What’s the longest survival you’ve seen among your mesothelioma patients?
  4. How do you prefer to be reached? By phone or email?
  5. Should I complement my therapy with exercise or a mesothelioma diet?
  6. Are clinical trials available for my type of cancer?
Find Ways to Pay for Mesothelioma Treatment
Gain access to trust funds, grants & other forms of compensation to help pay for treatment & other expenses.

Why It’s Important to Speak to a Mesothelioma Doctor

Treating mesothelioma is a delicate and time-sensitive process due to the disease’s rarity and tendency to spread quickly. Early and rapid mesothelioma treatment can significantly affect a patient’s prognosis and life expectancy.

BENEFITS OF SEEING A MESOTHELIOMA DOCTOR:

  • Doctors who treat mesothelioma are often part of a multidisciplinary team that includes a surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist.
  • Mesothelioma is a complex type of cancer, and these doctors often work at treatment centers that utilize the latest and best therapy options, including clinical trials.
  • Mesothelioma doctors can accurately diagnose the disease in its early stages and start prompt treatment, improving mesothelioma life expectancy and prognosis.

Many mesothelioma survivors credit their specialists for their extended life expectancy. Specialists also provide access to top mesothelioma treatments in your state. However, some patients must travel to other states to find a pleural or peritoneal specialist based on their mesothelioma type.

What to Expect During the Initial Appointment

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

What to Bring for the Appointment:
  1. Detailed summary of your medical and work history, including any possible exposure to asbestos in the workplace.
  2. Hard copies of your medical records and a CD of your recent scans.
  3. Timeline that describes your symptoms and when they developed.
  4. List of medications you take, including prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines.
  5. Questions you have about your diagnosis, treatment, clinical trials and recovery.

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

The mesothelioma doctor may review test results with you, such as imaging scans showing tumor location and pathology reports detailing tumor cell types.

Video on what mesothelioma patients should expect for their first doctor visit.

Watch: Mesothelioma specialist Dr. Marcelo DaSilva shares what mesothelioma patients can expect during their first doctor visit.

You can expect a detailed discussion of your treatment options, including the benefits, risks and side effects of different therapies. In addition, you will have time to ask questions and decide on a treatment plan with your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mesothelioma Doctors

Is it important to see a mesothelioma doctor over a regular oncologist?

Yes, it is crucial to work with a specialized mesothelioma doctor rather than a general oncologist. Mesothelioma doctors have spent years specializing in diagnosing and treating this rare cancer. They understand the intricacies of mesothelioma treatment and help patients live longer by using suitable therapies at the right time.

How can a mesothelioma doctor help me?

A mesothelioma specialist can help you understand your diagnosis and guide you through treatment. Mesothelioma doctors spend years diagnosing and treating this rare cancer, and they are considered the best resource to help you live longer with mesothelioma.

What is the importance of a second opinion from a mesothelioma doctor?

Seeking a second opinion from a mesothelioma doctor is essential to understanding your options for treatment that could extend survival. Second opinions often lead to better treatment options or a chance to join a clinical trial testing an innovative new treatment.

Who is Dr. David Sugarbaker?

Dr. David Sugarbaker was a pleural mesothelioma surgeon and pioneer in its treatment. Known as “Mr. Mesothelioma,” Sugarbaker trained and worked with numerous doctors who continue his research to help patients live longer lives.


Mesothelioma packet from the Mesothelioma Center
Get Your Free Mesothelioma Treatment Guide
Laptop with screen video conference on kitchen counter
Watch Our Free Mesothelioma Webinars
Technician documenting notes in a lab
Find Active Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

  •  
  •  
  •  
Tell us what you think
Did this article help you?
How did this article help you?
What about this article isn’t helpful for you?
Did this article help you?

Thank you for your feedback. Would you like to speak with a Patient Advocate?