Dr. Andrea Wolf is a technically skilled thoracic surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She is rapidly becoming a beacon of hope for patients with pleural mesothelioma.
She has thrived on the long odds and the steep challenges that come with treating the unfortunate few who are diagnosed with this rare, aggressive incurable disease.
“If a patient wants to fight, I’ll fight this battle right alongside him. I always loved the underdog. It’s the way I was raised,” she said. “These patients are not Wall Street executives. They are blue-collar [workers], most of them, and a lot like the people I grew up with. We’ll find something that works.”
Wolf was born in nearby Brooklyn. She grew up in a middle-class suburb in New Jersey. She returned to thrive in the city, bringing the expertise she acquired while excelling at the prestigious Harvard Medical School and the renowned mesothelioma program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Fast Fact: Dr. Andrea Wolf has worked closely with surgeons Dr. David Sugarbaker and Dr. Raja Flores, both recognized internationally as leaders in mesothelioma treatment.
“There is a reason to be optimistic now,” she said. “You don’t have to be so pessimistic about this disease anymore. I still hear others telling patients ‘just get your affairs in order,’ but that’s not what we’re seeing with the ones we’re treating. We’ve got mesothelioma patients we’ve been following for years. Things are working.”
Wolf is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery and the Board of Thoracic Surgery. She has worked with mesothelioma specialist Dr. David Sugarbaker, in Boston, and esteemed surgeon Dr. Raja Flores, in New York. She has been at Mount Sinai since 2012.
She is now director of the Women’s Lung Cancer Program, which focuses on multidisciplinary treatment, community outreach and clinical research.
Her clinical focus has been on lung cancer, esophageal cancer, mediastinal tumors and pleural mesothelioma. She specializes in general thoracic surgery. She has an expertise in minimally-invasive techniques. They include video-assisted thoracic and laparoscopic surgery for malignant and benign diseases of the chest wall, esophagus, diaphragm and lung.
If a patient wants to fight, I’ll fight this battle right alongside him. I always loved the underdog. It’s the way I was raised
She served as chief surgical resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and a residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Brigham and Women’s, where she first developed the passion for treating mesothelioma. She graduated cum laude from Princeton University and earned a master’s in clinical effectiveness at the Harvard University School of Public Health.
She most recently was the lead author in an extensive study that demonstrated the survival benefit of surgery over other therapies for malignant pleural mesothelioma. She has performed pleurectomy/decortication and the extrapleural pneumonectomy, the two most aggressive surgeries involving mesothelioma.
“I’m not trying to say there’s a cure and everyone does great, but people are successfully treated and live with [diseases] like HIV, diabetes, heart failure, and they can live with mesothelioma, if treated effectively,” she said. “I have an 88-year-old patient doing well with mesothelioma, and he had surgery three years ago. There are others like him.”
Wolf has brought her keen surgical skills and passion for helping the underdog to Mount Sinai, one of the nation’s oldest hospitals, and one where mesothelioma has been a priority for decades.
“If a patient wants to fight this disease, I don’t think having a physician deflate his morale is any help,” she said. “I’m realistic, and there is good reason to be optimistic. We can help these patients today. We’ve proven that.”
Wolf has published her work on mesothelioma in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Surgical Oncology and Respiratory Medicine. She co-authored one article that detailed why women with malignant pleural mesothelioma have a significantly better survival rate than men.
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