Pulmonologists and Mesothelioma

A pulmonologist is a doctor with specialized knowledge in the diagnosis and treatment of lung disease and provides expert care to people living with mesothelioma.

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A pulmonologist is a physician with specialized knowledge, training and skill in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary (lung) diseases.

Another name for a pulmonologist is a pulmonary disease specialist.

Pulmonology is a subspecialty of internal medicine. This means pulmonologists finish a three-year internal medicine residency and then complete a two-year pulmonology fellowship.

After those years in training, they can take a test to become board certified to practice pulmonary medicine.

The American College of Chest Physicians and the American Thoracic Society offer additional information on this medical specialty.

What Is a Pulmonologist Specialized In?

Pulmonologists are experts in the structure and function of the lungs, airways, pleura and blood vessels in and around these organs.

The pleura are the membranes around the lungs and lining the chest cavity. It is an area where mesothelioma tumors can occur.

When asbestos-related tumors occur on the pleura, the disease is called pleural mesothelioma.

As experts in the pleura, pulmonologists are an important part of a mesothelioma specialist team for someone living with the cancer.

What Types of Diseases Does a Pulmonologist Treat?

Pulmonologists diagnose, treat and manage a variety of diseases affecting the lungs, chest wall and chest cavity.

They specialize in how these pulmonary conditions affect the cardiovascular (heart and vessels) system.

Pulmonologists understand the inflammatory, infectious, cancerous, environmental and occupational causes of lung disease, too.

Pulmonary disease specialists work with people affected by:

  • Chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) such as emphysema
  • Lung cancer
  • Pleural mesothelioma
  • Pleural and lung infections such as tuberculosis
  • Pulmonary hypertension, a type of high blood pressure affecting arteries in the lungs and right side of the heart
  • Cystic fibrosis, an inherited (genetic) condition affecting the lungs

Common respiratory problems, such as uncomplicated asthma, typically are treated by general internists.

A pulmonary medicine specialist is called upon to diagnose unknown disorders and unusual respiratory system diseases such as mesothelioma.

Why See a Pulmonologist?

Mesothelioma is a very rare cancer.

Doctors who are not familiar with asbestos-related diseases can misdiagnose mesothelioma for more common conditions.

For this reason, pulmonologists often play a very important role in helping people with mesothelioma get an accurate diagnosis.

They can work with your oncologist and provide expert advice on managing the disease and its symptoms.

What Does a Pulmonologist Do?

A pulmonary medicine specialist can help you manage your disease.

Pulmonologists possess the expertise and skills to help you manage symptoms as effectively as possible.

For example, a pulmonologist can prescribe medications and therapies to minimize shortness of breath and pain.

How Do I Find a Pulmonologist with Mesothelioma Experience?

If you haven’t consulted with a pulmonologist yet, ask your oncologist for a referral to meet one.

A pulmonary medicine specialist 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 pulmonologist, can help you achieve the best possible outcomes after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

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Last Modified November 2, 2018

Registered Nurse and Patient Advocate

Karen Selby joined Asbestos.com in 2009. She is a registered nurse with a background in oncology and thoracic surgery and was the regional director of a tissue bank before becoming a Patient Advocate at The Mesothelioma Center. Karen has assisted surgeons with thoracic surgeries such as lung resections, lung transplants, pneumonectomies, pleurectomies and wedge resections. She is also a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators.

Walter Pacheco, Managing Editor at Asbestos.com
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