Mesothelioma represents only 0.3 percent of all types of cancer. Due to it’s rarity, you should seek out a specialist in mesothelioma cancer. If you were to see a general oncologist for your treatment, you could end up in the hands of a doctor who has never worked with a mesothelioma patient.
Finding The Mesothelioma Doctor For You
The best method of treatment for your mesothelioma depends exclusively on the type of mesothelioma you have. Some mesothelioma specialists are experts in treating only pleural mesothelioma, while others have experience treating patients with peritoneal mesothelioma or pericardial mesothelioma. In order to find just the right mesothelioma surgeon, you will need to seek out a specialist that is best suited for your unique diagnosis.
There are also certain hospitals and cancer centers in the country that specialize in mesothelioma. Some of these medical centers are Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals. This is because a large percentage of mesothelioma patients were exposed to asbestos while in the military. If your condition is not the result of exposure to asbestos while serving in the military, you will need to find a mesothelioma doctor that practices out of a non-VA surgical center.
Fortunately, there are several top notch mesothelioma oncologists who can help treat your mesothelioma. All of these specialists are also surgeons. As a result, they will be familiar with removing the mesothelioma, as well as the other aspects of mesothelioma treatment — including chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
By seeing a mesothelioma specialist, you will have a better chance at receiving the latest treatment methods for your disease. Research clinical trials are usually available only through mesothelioma specialists, as these doctors are actively participating in research related to this disease. Clinical trials can give you access to treatments that are unavailable to the general public. Participating in a clinical trial may even mean you receive treatment that prolongs your life.
Mesothelioma Specialists to Consider
Each of the mesothelioma doctors included below carries a specialty in mesothelioma. They practice in various parts of the country and are considered to be experts in either pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma. They are actively researching the condition and see hundreds of mesothelioma patients each year.
The following specialists are considered to be leaders in their field and should be considered when deciding on a mesothelioma doctor:
Dr. David Sugarbaker, M.D. practices out of the Lung Institute at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He originally studied mesothelioma at the Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a thoracic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma.
While in Boston, Dr. Sugarbaker pioneered a procedure used to treat pleural mesothelioma called the extrapleural pneumonectomy. This is a particularly aggressive type of lung surgery that removes not only the tumor, but also the lung, the lining around the heart, the lining around the lung, part of the diaphragm and all nearby lymph nodes. This procedure has been very successful in extending the lives of pleural mesothelioma patients and is one of the multiple treatments he uses to treat this type of cancer.
Dr. Abraham (Ari) Lebenthal, M.D. is a thoracic surgeon and specialist in mesothelioma at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, as well as the VA Medical Center. He treats both veterans and non-veterans with mesothelioma. Besides treating patients with mesothelioma and other types of lung cancer, he specializes in disorders of the gastroesophageal junction, including esophageal cancer.
Dr. Abraham completed his initial training in Israel as part of the Israeli Army before coming to the Unites States to treat patients with mesothelioma. His specialty is minimally invasive surgery where he concisely removes the mesothelioma tumor, along with treating patients with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. He did his fellowship at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, where he currently practices. He also conducts clinical research in mesothelioma and utilizes the latest practices when dealing with this complex disease.
Dr. Robert Cameron, M.D. cares for mesothelioma patients at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, located in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Cameron has specific theories about the treatment of pleural mesothelioma and believes that the practice of extrapleural pneumonectomy is too invasive. Instead, he prefers the lung-sparing pleurectomy with decortication procedure. This is a less invasive surgery that removes only the mesothelioma cancer and spares the lung.
After removing the tumor, Dr. Cameron treats the mesothelioma as a chronic condition and manages it through radiation and chemotherapy. He is currently the director of Thoracic Surgery at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and is one of the medical advisors at the Pacific-Meso Center, which uses state of the art treatment for mesothelioma patients from all walks of life.
Dr. Paul Sugarbaker is the mesothelioma specialist you’ll want to see if you are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. He practices at the Cancer Institute in the Washington Hospital Center, where, among other things, he treats patients with mesothelioma. Dr. Sugarbaker is world-renowned as a leader and specialist in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma, which is mesothelioma that has developed on the lining of the abdominal cavity.
He is involved in clinical research to find the best ways to treat this disorder and is one of the few medical specialists in the area of peritoneal mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma is an extremely rare disease and requires an expert like Dr. Paul Sugarbaker. He has surgical expertise in removing this type of cancer, as well as experience in the top treatment methods available for radiation and chemotherapy.
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 one of the few specialized mesothelioma centers in the country. You should also inquire about travel arrangements and lodging facilities offered by the mesothelioma centers.
Last, but not least, you’ll want to find out everything you can about the mesothelioma doctor you are considering. This includes determining what type of mesothelioma the doctor specializes in, the types of surgery the surgeon usually performs and what kinds of clinical trials the doctor is participating in.
You’ll want to make an appointment for a consultation with a specialists and ask some of the following questions:
- Is the doctor covered under my insurance plan?
- Does 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 he 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 my sub-type of mesothelioma?
- Does the doctor have treatments for widespread mesothelioma?
- Will the doctor allow me access to a clinical trial?
Once you feel satisfied that the doctor you are choosing is skilled and knowledgeable about your sub-type of mesothelioma, you can confidently make arrangements to begin treatment for this complex disease.