Mesothelioma Experts and Innovative Research in Florida
Florida ranks No. 2 in the nation for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths. The state’s large retirement population is the primary reason for the high ranking. Thankfully, Florida is home to some of the best mesothelioma surgeons, hospitals and cancer centers in the nation.
Several surgeons in Florida have trained under Dr. David Sugarbaker, the mesothelioma specialist who pioneered treatment for the disease. These surgeons include Dr. Jacques Fontaine in Tampa and Dr. Nestor Villamizar at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami.
The state’s mesothelioma experts have advanced new therapies for the disease. Doctors and cancer centers in Florida helped develop Tumor Treating Fields, a new therapy approved in 2019 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat pleural mesothelioma.
Fontaine was part of a mesothelioma advisory group that helped develop Tumor Treating Fields, also known as TTFields, before the therapy became available to the public.
The Miami Cancer Institute was an early adopter of TTFields and one of the first mesothelioma cancer centers in the country to offer the therapy.
Where to Get Mesothelioma Treatment in Florida
Mesothelioma patients in Florida visit H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa to participate in innovative clinical trials and receive multidisciplinary care from a team of mesothelioma doctors.
Patients also visit Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami to access innovative surgical techniques such as cytoreductive surgery with heated chemotherapy, which is the leading treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma.
Pleural mesothelioma patients also turn to AdventHealth Celebration, located just south of Orlando, to access robotic surgery.
Mesothelioma Specialists in Florida
Florida residents with mesothelioma have several experts in the state to choose from who specialize in treating pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma.
Tampa is home to Fontaine, a pleural mesothelioma specialist and surgeon at the forefront of mesothelioma treatment and research. The Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami is home to Villamizar. Both thoracic surgeons trained under Sugarbaker, the pioneer behind tumor-removing surgery for pleural mesothelioma.
Sylvester also features Dr. Mecker Moller, a peritoneal mesothelioma specialist who was the first to perform the cytoreduction and heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) combination in South Florida.
In Orlando, pleural mesothelioma patients turn to Dr. Farid Gharagozloo, a thoracic surgeon who specializes in robotic surgery.
Research and Clinical Trials in Florida
Florida is home to innovative clinical trials and research for mesothelioma.
Moffitt Cancer Center is running a phase II clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of multimodal therapy with pleurectomy and decortication surgery, chemotherapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy.
The University of Miami Hospital is participating in a phase II clinical trial of Imfinzi (durvalumab) in combination with standard chemotherapy for mesothelioma to see if it improves overall survival in patients.
Multiple cancer centers throughout Florida are participating in a phase II clinical trial of the immunotherapy drugs Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab) in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma.
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Mesothelioma Survivors from Florida
Pleural Mesothelioma Survivor
When Gene Hartline was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in July 2016, doctors told him there was little they could do for his advanced condition. His family couldn’t accept that prognosis, so they sought a second opinion not too far from their home in Lady Lake, Florida. Hartline did chemotherapy and decided to join an immunotherapy clinical trial testing Opdivo at the recommendation of his new doctor. Opdivo kept his cancer under control for nine months. “I would tell anyone who gets diagnosed with this disease, don’t just take the first advice you get and give up,” Hartline said. “Look around and see what is out there.”
Pleural Mesothelioma Survivor
Floridian Jack Riordan was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in June 2014 and knew right away that he wanted to participate in a clinical trial. He has a strong belief clinical trials help others facing the diagnosis. After finishing chemotherapy, he joined an immunotherapy clinical trial in southwest Florida. “Without thinking twice, I’d recommend a clinical trial to most everyone. By taking part, maybe it will give doctors some information to help others in the future,” Riordan said.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survivor
Judy Goodson was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2013 following treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. A CT scan revealed spots on her bladder, and doctors assumed it was a lymphoma metastasis. After the spots didn’t respond to chemotherapy and radiation, doctors performed a biopsy and found peritoneal mesothelioma. Goodson underwent cytoreductive surgery and two rounds of HIPEC with Dr. Sophie Dessureault at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. “I believe with my heart that those that survive are warriors,” Goodson said. “I often joke with my friends that mesothelioma whispered in my ear, ‘You can’t handle me.’ And I told mesothelioma, no, you can’t handle me.”
5 Cited Article Sources
The sources on all content featured in The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com include medical and scientific studies, peer-reviewed studies and other research documents from reputable organizations.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2019). Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database.
Retrieved from: http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html
University of Miami Health System. (2019). Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Retrieved from: https://umiamihealth.org/en/sylvester-comprehensive-cancer-center
Moffitt Cancer Center. (2019). H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.
Retrieved from: https://moffitt.org
AdventHealth. (n.d.). AdventHealth Celebration.
Retrieved from: https://www.adventhealth.com/hospital/adventhealth-celebration
- AdventHealth. (n.d.). AdventHealth Orlando. Retrieved from: https://www.adventhealth.com/hospital/adventhealth-orlando
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Last Modified February 11, 2020