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Last Modified April 15, 2022
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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.

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Top General Surgeons Who Treat Mesothelioma

The following general surgeons have experience treating people with mesothelioma.

Charles Mulligan
Thoracic Surgeon

Dr. Charles R. Mulligan is chief of thoracic surgery at Christiana Care-Helen Graham Cancer Center in Newark, Delaware. He is double board-certified in general surgery and thoracic surgery and specializes in surgical procedures for pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Seth D. Blank
Thoracic Surgeon

Dr. Seth D. Blank is a thoracic surgeon at Maine General Medical Center in Agusta, Maine. He specializes in surgical procedures for pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer, and he is board-certified in general surgery, thoracic surgery and medical examination.

Eric Sommers
Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Dr. Eric Sommers is a thoracic surgeon at Florida Heart and Lung Surgery in Tampa, Florida. He specializes in the surgical treatment of pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer, and he has been board-certified in general surgery and thoracic surgery.

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Find a Specialist Near You

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What is a General Surgeon?

A general surgeon is a doctor with deep understanding of anatomy, physiology, metabolism, immunology, pathology, cancer, wound healing and intensive care.

Training for this medical specialty provides knowledge and practice diagnosing diseases and conditions. General surgeons receive training in team leadership and may oversee many aspects of medical care for each patient.

General surgeons are skilled in preoperative, operative and postoperative care, including surgical complications. They work with culturally diverse and vulnerable groups, and with patients lacking access to ongoing and coordinated health care.

What Type of Training Does a General Surgeon Have?

Training programs for general surgeons require a minimum of five years and include experience performing surgeries of the digestive tract, abdomen and related organs, breast and other soft tissues, head and neck, and vascular and endocrine systems.

General surgeons perform cancer-related surgeries and provide care related to trauma, critical illness, emergency medicine and burns.

After five or more years of training, a physician can take a test to become board certified in general surgery.

Why See a General Surgeon?

A general surgeon may be called in to consult on a surgical case in which the cause of symptoms is not well understood. This may include pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma can lead to vague and confusing symptoms such as shortness of breath, pain and bloating. A general surgeon can perform the exploratory surgery that leads to a definitive diagnosis.

This is important because it allows your medical team to develop a comprehensive mesothelioma treatment plan. The sooner you begin treatment, the more likely you will have the best possible outcome.

A 2021 clinical research study in the Journal of Thoracic Disease showed that lung-sparing surgery provides a longer survival for patients in the early stage of the disease. When doctors perform a pleurectomy with decortication, they also preserve the diaphragm and pericardium.

The study also noted that recurrence is not affected by the type of surgery, and a recurrence-free interval of more than 12 months correlated with increased survival when complete resection is achieved.

Once you have received a diagnosis, a general surgeon can work with your oncologist and provide expert advice on surgical options for managing mesothelioma symptoms.

Find a Mesothelioma Cancer Center
Access top mesothelioma cancer centers that have experience treating this rare disease.

What Does a General Surgeon Do?

Even for people who are not expected to be cured of mesothelioma, quality of life matters.

General surgeons possess the expertise and skills to help you manage symptoms as effectively as possible. They have training in pain management and understand how the disease may affect your ability to live your life.

For example, a general surgeon can perform minimally invasive — laparoscopic or endoscopy-guided — surgery to drain fluid from around your tumor, if you are an appropriate candidate for this type of operation.

This can minimize shortness of breath and pain.

How Do I Find a General Surgeon with Mesothelioma Experience?

If you have exposure to asbestos or your doctor suspects mesothelioma is a possibility, ask for a referral to a surgeon with mesothelioma experience.

If your symptoms suggest pleural mesothelioma, which affects the areas around the lungs and heart, you may be referred to a thoracic surgeon first.

A general surgeon can work with you and the rest of your health care team to create a mesothelioma care plan.

The right combination of medical team members, including a general surgeon, can help you achieve the best possible outcomes after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

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