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Before June 2010, mesothelioma patients in the Southwestern United States were forced to travel to a different region of the country for radical lung surgery. When Jonathan Daniel, M.D., performed the region’s first extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) at the University of Arizona at Tucson’s University Medical Center, the options for mesothelioma treatment in the area greatly expanded.
In the five years after he performed the region’s first EPP, Daniel completed five more of the procedures, often recommending that his patients also receive chemotherapy and radiation to increase their chances of responding to the surgery. The intensive operation removes any existing tumors, the lung, the diaphragm and the lining of the heart, but the adjuvant therapies are recommended to ensure that all cancer cells are killed.
(An extrapleural pneumonectomy is) a surgical treatment most people don’t feel comfortable doing, (But) the disease is very aggressive, (and) … a cure with mesothelioma is really hard to achieve.
Despite the challenges of treating this rare cancer, Daniel has the necessary experience to give patients the best possible chance at surviving. Trained in general and cardiothoracic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Daniel has been accumulating hands-on surgical experience since 2000.
Daniel studied thoracic surgery under world-renowned mesothelioma expert David Sugarbaker, MD, with whom he authored an article discussing surgical techniques for mesothelioma. The 2009 article, published in Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, advocated cytoreductive surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy.
Fast Fact: Daniel was the first doctor to perform the EPP procedure in the Southwest.
The research team found that the combination provided higher rates of long-term survival for mesothelioma patients than other currently used treatments. Sugarbaker and Daniel agree that this procedure, while beneficial, should only be performed by specially trained surgeons at facilities with experience in treating mesothelioma cases, such as the University Medical Center.
Also involved in gene therapy research, Daniel was on MD Anderson’s team of investigators that established the role of a signaling pathway in mesothelioma cell cycles. The 2005 project found that inhibiting epidermal growth factor can trigger cell death in mesothelioma tumors.
Daniel’s clinical practices are located at the University Medical Center, Tucson Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital. In addition to mesothelioma, his clinical specialties include minimally invasive lung resections and lung transplantation. He is certified through the American Board of Surgery and is a member of the American College of Chest Physicians.
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