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Last Modified September 7, 2022
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Top Thoracic Surgeons for Mesothelioma

Andrea Wolf
Thoracic Surgeon

Dr. Andrea Wolf is a thoracic surgeon and director of the Women’s Lung Cancer Program at Mount Sinai in New York. She received training under mesothelioma treatment pioneer Dr. David Sugarbaker and specializes in minimally invasive and multidisciplinary techniques.

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.

Jeffrey Velotta
Thoracic Surgeon

Dr. Jeffrey Velotta is a thoracic surgeon at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center, serving pleural mesothelioma patients on the West Coast. He is board certified in general, thoracic and cardiac surgery, and he trained under renowned mesothelioma specialist Dr. David Sugarbaker.

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.
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.

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.

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.

Nestor Villamizar
Thoracic Surgeon

Thoracic surgeon Dr. Nestor Villamizar has raised the level of treatment for pleural mesothelioma patients at the Sylvester Cancer Center and the University of Miami Health System. He came to Miami from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he worked alongside mesothelioma treatment pioneer Dr. David Sugarbaker.

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What Is a Thoracic Surgeon?

Thoracic surgeons are doctors with specialized training to perform a variety of mesothelioma surgeries.

The most common surgeries include:

  • Biopsies of tissues in the chest cavity to diagnose disease
  • An exploratory operation to determine the extent of disease and best course of treatment going forward
  • Tumor removal to help treat pleural mesothelioma, and in some cases, put the disease in remission
  • Palliative surgery to improve symptoms, lessen pain and improve quality of life for people living with mesothelioma

What Does a Thoracic Surgeon Do?

For patients with early-stage disease that has not spread beyond the original tumor, a thoracic surgeon can offer the best chance of long-term survival for pleural mesothelioma.

Even if surgery is not going to be a major component of how you treat mesothelioma, a thoracic surgeon still can be an important part of managing your disease.

Thoracic surgeons can obtain tissue samples of your disease, which will help your oncologist determine the best plan of care for you.

The mesothelioma cells making up your tumor may affect the type and amount of chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy treatments recommended for you.

One of the most important things your thoracic surgeon can do is to alleviate symptoms of disease.

Thoracic surgeons can remove fluid on or around your lungs, helping to alleviate shortness of breath and pain.

These procedures, called thoracentesis and pleurodesis, can help you feel much better, and quite literally, breathe easier.

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

How do Thoracic Surgeons Treat Mesothelioma Patients?

Thoracic surgeons operate on chest cavity organs such as the lungs, heart, pleura and pericardium.

The pleura is the membrane that lines the chest cavity and the lungs, while the pericardium is the membrane surrounding the heart.

These medical specialists are trained to perform surgery on people diagnosed with certain types of mesothelioma.

Thoracic surgeons are among the mesothelioma specialists who are on the front lines of treating and managing the disease.

For patients diagnosed with mesothelioma of the pleura or pericardium, consultation with a thoracic surgeon is an important part of medical care and treatment.

Thoracic surgeons also routinely lead clinical research trials to improve techniques for safety and efficacy. In 2021, the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery published updated guidelines for mesothelioma surgery based on joint collaboration with the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons offers additional information on this important medical specialty.

How Do I Find a Mesothelioma Thoracic Surgeon Near Me?

Even if you don’t plan to have complete tumor removal as part of your pleural or pericardial mesothelioma care, ask your oncologist for a referral to a thoracic surgeon with experience treating mesothelioma.

If a mesothelioma-specialist thoracic surgeon is not available at your treatment center, you may want to consult with someone using telemedicine or traveling to a larger cancer treatment facility for a second opinion.

There may be new or emerging surgical techniques available to you now that haven’t been available previously.

Also consider clinical trials for mesothelioma that include treatment by a thoracic surgeon who is collaborating with mesothelioma doctors, immunotherapy specialists and other experts.

This combination of medical team members can help you achieve the best possible outcomes after a mesothelioma diagnosis. lists dozens of studies that include thoracic surgery as part of the treatment being studied.

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