Doctors Who Specialize in Mesothelioma Care: The Knowledge and Skills They Possess are Key to Long Survival

A patient who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma can choose to be treated by a general oncologist but may get better results by opting to receive care from a doctor who specializes in mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma doctors possess a much higher level of knowledge about this cancer than do other types of physicians.

Because of their greater understanding of mesothelioma, they can usually offer patients better chances of extended survival and a good quality of life.

Mesothelioma care is not a formal field in which doctors become board certified. Most often, those who specialize in mesothelioma are oncologists. However, mesothelioma specialists come from other fields such as thoracic surgery, pulmonology, internal medicine, and gastrointestinal surgery.

Initial Consult with a Mesothelioma Doctor

When meeting with a mesothelioma specialist for the first time, patients should be prepared to ask many questions. The obvious questions are those concerning the doctor’s training and experience in treating mesothelioma, but others that should also be asked might include those pertaining to the doctor’s care philosophy, approaches, and bedside manner.

The first meeting will also be a time for the doctor to ask questions of the patient. These typically will include queries about the patient’s medical history—including when, where, and how exposure to asbestos occurred (that is important because exposure to this mineral is the only known cause of mesothelioma).

Another set of questions likely to be posed by the doctor deal with symptoms. The patient will be asked to describe in detail the sensations of discomfort or pain being experienced in order to help the doctor arrive at a correct diagnosis and an accurate prognosis.

If the patient was diagnosed before this first meeting, the doctor will probably shift to a conversation about treatment in which the various options will be spelled out. The patient will from this discussion learn how each option would likely affect survival and the impact it potentially could have on quality of life.

Best Mesothelioma Doctors

Mesothelioma doctors are substantially outnumbered by doctors who treat common malignancies. That means patients looking for a mesothelioma specialist will have far fewer choices available to them than if they were instead looking for a doctor to treat, for example, breast or prostate cancer.

To locate mesothelioma specialists, conduct a Google search using the keywords “top mesothelioma doctors.” Here are some of the names such a search is likely to produce:

Raphael Bueno, MD, chief of thoracic surgery and vice chair of surgery for cancer and translational research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Bueno runs the International Mesothelioma Program there, which combines a clinical program, research program, and a support program for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The treatment strategies available through this program are said to be among the most advanced.

Robert Brian Cameron, MD, director of thoracic oncology at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Cameron is well-known for his far-reaching research. Areas his investigations have touched upon include thoracic oncology, thoracic pain management, video-assisted surgery,
lung volume reduction surgery, and immunology.

Raja M. Flores, MD, chief of thoracic surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Flores is considered a leading expert in the research and treatment of pleural mesothelioma, having conducted numerous clinical trials of new drugs and protocols for that form of the cancer. His findings have been published in many peer-reviewed journals.

David H. Harpole, Jr., MD, director of the Duke University Medical Center Lung Cancer Prognosis Research Laboratory in Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Harpole is a board certified thoracic surgery and the author of numerous articles and publications about mesothelioma.

David M. Jablons, MD, chief of general thoracic surgery at the UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion in San Francisco. He is an ADA Distinguished Professor of thoracic oncology and professor of cardiothoracic surgery. Mesothelioma is among the cancers he has studied intensively.

Harvey Pass, MD, chief of thoracic surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Pass treats malignant lung diseases, including mesothelioma. He has an ongoing relationship with the National Cancer Institute, where he once worked full-time.

Larry Robinson, MD, director of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Robinson is recognized as a leading authority in the evaluation and treatment of mesothelioma.

Paul H. Sugarbaker, MD, director of the Peritoneal Surface Malignancy Program at the Washington Cancer Institute in the District of Columbia. Dr. Sugarbaker is known for his use of cytoreductive surgery in combination with intraperitoneal and systemic chemotherapy. He is also a prolific author of journal articles and books on this treatment methodology.

Anne Tsao, MD, director of the mesothelioma specialty section at the M.D. Anderson Center at the University of Texas in Houston. Dr. Tsao’s work has garnered for her a number of honors, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology Merit Award and the M.D. Anderson Achievement in Research Award.

Eric Vallieres, MD, surgical director at the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Vallieres has three areas of expertise: general thoracic surgery, lung cancer, and pleural disease. He has written extensively on the importance of treating mesothelioma and other cancers of the chest by use of the multidisciplinary team approach.

Claire Verschraegen, MD, director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the Vermont Cancer Center in Burlington, Vermont. Dr. Verschraegen is a foremost authority on the diagnosis and treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma and is keenly interested in identifying promising new therapeutics specifically designed for combatting this cancer.

Stephen C. Yang, MD, chief of the thoracic surgery division at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Yang holds two other titles: surgical director of the Lung Transplantation Program and surgical director of the Thoracic Oncology Program. He is widely esteemed for his skills with video-assisted and robotic-assisted thoracic surgery.

More information about mesothelioma doctors is available by downloading this free guide. In it is a state-by-state listing of more top doctors who treat mesothelioma and asbestos disease