Top Mesothelioma Doctors

Quick Summary

Few oncologists have experience treating patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Finding a mesothelioma specialist is critical to increasing long-term survival odds.

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Finding the Mesothelioma Doctor For You

The best treatment method depends on your mesothelioma location. Some mesothelioma specialists are experts in treating only pleural mesothelioma, while others have experience treating patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. You will need to seek out a specialist that is best suited for your unique diagnosis.

There are cancer centers all across the country that specialize in mesothelioma with multidisciplinary teams of mesothelioma specialists on staff.

Specialists at mesothelioma hospitals include:

  • Board-certified medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Thoracic surgeons
  • Pathologists
  • Other medical professionals

A large percentage of mesothelioma patients were exposed to asbestos while in the military. Fortunately, some of the best mesothelioma doctors are VA hospitals.

If your condition is not the result of exposure to asbestos while serving in the military, you need to find a mesothelioma doctor that practices out of a non-VA surgical center.

Did you know

There are over 1.6 million cases of cancer diagnosed in the U.S. each year, but mesothelioma accounts for only around 3,000 diagnoses. This is why finding a doctor with mesothelioma experience is so important.

Further, you have a better chance of receiving the latest cancer treatment methods if you see a specialist. Research clinical trials are usually available only through mesothelioma specialists who actively participate in research related to this disease.

Clinical trials can give you access to new treatments that are unavailable to the general public. Participating in a clinical trial may even mean you receive treatment that prolongs your life.

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  • Treatment Options
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Top Mesothelioma Specialists for Veterans

Each of the mesothelioma doctors below carries a specialty in mesothelioma. They practice in various parts of the country and are experts in either pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma. They have conducted groundbreaking research and have treated hundreds of patients.

Abraham Lebenthal MDAbraham (Avi) Lebenthal, M.D. – Pleural Mesothelioma

Dr. Avi Lebenthal is a thoracic surgeon who treats veterans with mesothelioma from across the country at the Boston VA Hospital.

Dr. Lebenthal completed his initial training in Israel as part of the Israeli army before coming to the United States. His specialty is minimally invasive surgery. He also treats patients with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

He did his fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where also treats non-veterans with mesothelioma today. Dr. Lebenthal conducts clinical research and uses the latest treatments to help his patients live longer.

Dr. Lebenthal is an optimist when it comes to survival for his mesothelioma patients.

“When planned and executed precisely, the ‘impossible’ becomes possible.”

– Dr. Avi Lebenthal

In addition to mesothelioma, he specializes in disorders of the gastroesophageal junction, including esophageal cancer.

David J. Sugarbaker, M.D. – Pleural Mesothelioma (1953-2018)

Until his passing in August 2018, Dr. David Sugarbaker practiced out of the Lung Institute at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

He originally studied mesothelioma at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He was a thoracic surgeon who specialized in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma.

While in Boston, Dr. Sugarbaker pioneered a procedure used to treat pleural mesothelioma — the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). This surgery removes the diseased lung, the lining around the heart and lungs, and part of the diaphragm. The doctor also takes out all nearby lymph nodes.

This procedure has been very successful in extending the lives of pleural mesothelioma patients. It’s one of the multiple therapies he used to help mesothelioma.

“The treatment of patients with mesothelioma really is a team effort. One of the most important things we that can do within the mesothelioma treatment center is to provide hope for patients and their families that their treatment here will result in longer-term survival.”

– Dr. David Sugarbaker

Paul Sugarbaker MDPaul Sugarbaker, M.D. – Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Dr. Paul Sugarbaker is the specialist you’ll want to see if you are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. He practices at the Cancer Institute at the Washington Hospital Center.

He’s world-renowned as a leader and specialist in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma as well as other types of abdominal and gastrointestinal cancers.

He is involved in clinical mesothelioma research and is one of the few medical specialists in the area of peritoneal mesothelioma. He has decades of surgical expertise in removing this type of cancer. He’s also an expert in chemotherapy.

Dr. Sugarbaker helped perfect the treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma — cytoreduction with HIPEC. His work in the improvement of this procedure is so prominent, that it’s very often referred to as the “Sugarbaker Procedure.”

“If we can recognize [peritoneal mesothelioma] early, and apply the definitive treatment, […] the outcome is extremely good; perhaps 75% of people [are] alive and well and disease-free at 5 years.”

– Dr. Paul Sugarbaker

Robert B. Cameron, M.D. – Pleural Mesothelioma

Dr. Cameron cares for mesothelioma patients at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles, California, and the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.

Dr. Cameron has specific theories about the treatment of pleural mesothelioma, and he believes that the EPP is too invasive. Instead, he prefers the lung-sparing pleurectomy with decortication procedure (P/D), a less invasive surgery that removes only the mesothelioma cancer and spares the lung.

Dr. Cameron treats mesothelioma as a chronic condition and manages it through radiation and chemotherapy. He is currently the director of thoracic surgery and head of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

He is also one of the medical advisors at the Pacific Mesothelioma Center. This center uses state of the art treatment for mesothelioma patients from all walks of life.

“The first thing you should do when you’ve been diagnosed with [mesothelioma] is to try and find a center of excellence in terms of treatment.”

– Dr. Robert Cameron

Visit the UCLA Health website to learn more about Dr. Robert Cameron.

Disclaimer

The Mesothelioma Veterans Center has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Robert B. Cameron. The contact information above is listed for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. Cameron directly.

dr. raja floresDr. Raja Flores – Pleural Mesothelioma

Dr. Flores is the chairman of the Department of Thoracic Surgery, the director of the Mesothelioma Program, and a professor in thoracic surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

He has worked on several research projects focused on improving treatments for malignant pleural mesothelioma.

How to Choose a Mesothelioma Doctor

Before you decide on a mesothelioma doctor, you’ll need to do some research.

You should first find out if your insurance will cover treatment at a mesothelioma cancer center. You should also figure out travel arrangements and lodging. Some cancer centers offer temporary housing to mesothelioma patients and their families only.

Last, but not least, you’ll want to find out everything you can about the doctor you want to see. Find out what they specialize in. Learn the types of surgery they usually perform and what kinds of clinical trials they participate in.

Here are some questions to ask when choosing a mesothelioma doctor:

  • Is the doctor covered by my insurance plan?
  • Will this doctor collaborate with me on specific options for treatment?
  • Has the doctor been practicing for a long time in the area of mesothelioma treatment?
  • Does the doctor understand my need to make decisions and will they address all of my concerns?
  • Does the doctor have a clear and transparent way of communicating?
  • Can I easily travel to see this doctor?
  • What kinds of treatments for mesothelioma does this doctor offer?
  • Does the doctor treat the type and stage of mesothelioma I have?
  • Does this doctor know about available clinical trials for mesothelioma?

You should feel satisfied that the doctor you are choosing is skilled and knowledgeable about your subtype of mesothelioma. Then you can confidently make arrangements to begin your treatment plan.

Mesothelioma cancer centers have doctors who specialize in different ways to treat mesothelioma. The team often consists of oncologists, surgeons, and radiologists. Mesothelioma cancer centers are also the best way to take advantage of clinical trials.

Becoming a Mesothelioma Survivor

Mesothelioma survivors are people who have lived years with no signs of their disease. They may still take medication to prevent it from reoccurring, but they have essentially taken their lives back.

Surgical oncologists like Dr. Sugarbaker and Dr. Cameron have led some of their patients to beat their disease.

  • How to Become a Mesothelioma Survivor

    Surgery remains the best way to achieve survival. Some doctors consider the patients “cured” after surgery although there is always a chance of recurrence (when the mesothelioma comes back).

Dr. Cameron and Dr. Sugarbaker both have several patients who are alive more than 6 years after their diagnosis. Some people are even living beyond 10 years with no signs of mesothelioma. This is thanks to their mesothelioma specialists.

Improve Your Prognosis With a Specialist

Not having control is frustrating, but you can take that power back by choosing a mesothelioma specialist. Getting the right doctor can be the difference between surviving months or years.

The best way to take control of your prognosis is to find the right doctor for your diagnosis, and the best way to find the right doctor is by getting a second opinion. This will provide you with a list of different treatment options.

A second opinion will also give you the peace of mind that you are getting the best treatment possible.

Here are the top reasons to see a mesothelioma specialist:

  • Top doctors are up-to-date on the latest, most effective treatments
  • They perform clinical trials that offer additional treatment options
  • They have helped patients become survivors

Most treatments, particularly surgery, can often double a patient’s life expectancy. Patients are unlikely to get these treatments without a doctor specializing in mesothelioma. To learn more about the latest mesothelioma treatments, get your free Mesothelioma Veterans Packet now.

Veterans Support Team
Todd Gersten, MD PhotoReviewed by:Todd Gersten, MD

Double Board-Certified Oncologist and Hematologist

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Todd Gersten, MD is a double board-certified medical oncologist and hematologist specializing in general adult oncology and hematologic disease. He is a physician partner with the Florida Cancer Specialists and practices in Wellington, Florida.

Dr. Todd Gersten is an independently paid medical reviewer.

Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

View Sources

Baylor College of Medicine. YouTube. “David J. Sugarbaker M.D.” 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hjx9Is4TcGE. Accessed on September 21st, 2017.

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. “Mesothelioma Symposium 2009 - Paul Sugarbaker, MD - Peritoneal Mesothelioma.” YouTube. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgHrIuox3pc. Accessed on September 21st, 2017.

National Cancer Institute. “Cancer Statistics.” Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics. Accessed on September 21st, 2017.

Pacific Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. YouTube. “Dr. Robert B. Cameron: Treating Mesothelioma as a Chronic Disease.” 2009. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNBCXUkPUlQ. Accessed on September 21st, 2017.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA Boston Healthcare System. “Asbestos and Mesothelioma.” Retrieved from: https://www.boston.va.gov/services/surgical/Asbestos_and_Mesothelioma.asp. Accessed on September 21st, 2017.

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