What Is a Mesothelioma Doctor?
A mesothelioma doctor specifically focuses on treating this type of cancer and understands the physical effects of asbestos. These doctors practice under the field of oncology (the study and treatment of cancer). Finding a mesothelioma specialist is an important step toward receiving life-extending treatment.
Why Is It Important to Find a Mesothelioma Specialist?
Mesothelioma specialists are able to provide treatments that are targeted toward the patient’s type and stage of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a very rare cancer, with only 3,000 cases diagnosed per year, and every type is aggressive. However, top doctors have the experience and skills to properly diagnose patients and help them live as long as possible.
As a result, patients have greater chances of improving their prognosis through effective treatment plans developed by mesothelioma experts.
“When hope is part of the equation, anything is possible, so people should be encouraged to seek treatment.”
Many mesothelioma doctors have decades of experience treating patients and researching new treatment options. Dr. David Sugarbaker, for example, spearheaded pleural mesothelioma treatments for 30 years. Even after his passing in 2018, his passion and care for patients lives on as many doctors he mentored currently lead the field.
Ultimately, because mesothelioma is so rare, only a mesothelioma specialist will be able to provide the best treatment options.
Contact our advocates at Lung Cancer Group if you need help finding a top mesothelioma specialist in your area.
Types of Mesothelioma Doctors
Mesothelioma doctors are categorized by their specialization and the type of treatments they provide. Mesothelioma treatment therapies vary depending on where the cancer first forms.
Finding a doctor who specializes in the type of mesothelioma you have been diagnosed with will be important in getting the best care. Some specialists also regularly participate in clinical mesothelioma research to explore new treatment methods.
Pleural Mesothelioma Doctors
Pleural mesothelioma doctors treat mesothelioma tumors that form in the lining of the lungs (pleura). Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type, making up about 85% of all cases.
Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include chest pain, difficulty breathing, fluid buildup in the lungs, persistent dry cough, and unexplained weight loss.
As pleural mesothelioma progresses, cancerous tumors may spread to other parts of the body. Pleural mesothelioma doctors often use surgery along with other treatments to slow the progression of this cancer.
Learn about some of the top pleural mesothelioma doctors below.
Dr. Robert Cameron
- Nearly 40 years of experience
- Located at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and West Los Angeles VA Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA
- Specializes in pleurectomy with decortication
Dr. Raja Flores
- Nearly 30 years of experience
- Located at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City
- Former mentee of renowned thoracic surgeon Dr. David Sugarbaker
Dr. Joseph Friedberg
- More than 30 years of experience
- Located at Temple University Health System in Philadelphia, PA
- Specializes in thoracic surgery
Dr. R. Taylor Ripley
- More than 15 years of experience
- Located at Mesothelioma Treatment Center at the Baylor College of Medicine Lung Institute in Houston, TX
- Specializes in minimally invasive robotic thoracic surgery
Dr. David Sugarbaker
- Decades of medical service until his passing in 2018
- Developed the extrapleural pneumonectomy procedure (EPP). While a more invasive surgery, the procedure is considered one of the most effective in improving life expectancy
- Mentored many mesothelioma oncologists still working in the field today
Do you need help finding a pleural mesothelioma specialist near you? Contact the Lung Cancer Group team to get started.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Doctors
Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum) and can lead to a number of tumors forming in the abdomen and nearby organs. Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common type of mesothelioma, making up about 10% of cases every year.
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma often include abdominal pain, bloating, fluid buildup in the abdomen, loss of appetite, and unexplained weight loss.
One of the most effective treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma is a combination of hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) and cytoreductive surgery. Doctors can use this treatment to surgically remove cancer tumors and then kill microscopic cancer cells with chemotherapy.
Learn about some of the top peritoneal mesothelioma specialists below.
Dr. Richard Alexander
- More than 40 years of experience
- Located at Rutgers Cancer Institute in New Brunswick, NJ
- Specializes in cytoreduction with HIPEC and targeted therapy
Dr. Hedy Lee Kindler
- More than 30 years of experience
- Located at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chicago, IL, where she serves as the Director of the Mesothelioma Program
- Specializes in cytoreduction with HIPEC, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy
Dr. James Pingpank
- More than 25 years of experience
- Located at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, PA
- Specializes in cytoreduction with HIPEC
Dr. Paul Sugarbaker
- Committed decades of medical research on peritoneal mesothelioma
- Developed one of the best peritoneal mesothelioma treatments — cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
- Treated patients in Washington, D.C., before his retirement in 2018
Contact the Lung Cancer Group team for help finding a peritoneal mesothelioma specialist near you.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Doctors
An extremely rare type of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma develops in the lining of the heart. This type of mesothelioma only accounts for about 1% of mesothelioma cases each year.
It is commonly treated by surgically removing tumors from the heart and heart lining. Despite its rarity, some top pleural mesothelioma doctors are qualified to perform surgical treatments for pericardial mesothelioma.
Testicular Mesothelioma Doctors
Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest type of this cancer, with only a few hundred cases ever reported. Tumors develop in the lining of the testes in cases of testicular mesothelioma.
Because this cancer is so rare, very few mesothelioma doctors are specialized in diagnosing and treating testicular mesothelioma. Patients can ask their doctor to check for signs and symptoms, such as fluid buildup in the scrotum, so they can be referred to cancer specialists to treat it.
How to Choose a Mesothelioma Doctor
Beyond finding a mesothelioma doctor near you who can treat your type of the cancer, there are other things to consider when choosing a specialist.
- How many years of experience does the specialist have? Doctors with decades of experience treating your specific mesothelioma type will have extensive knowledge to help you through treatment.
- Is the mesothelioma doctor professional, kind, and respectful? Specialists who communicate with their patients clearly and compassionately can help make the treatment process a better experience.
- Is the mesothelioma specialist connected to a multidisciplinary team or cancer center? A top mesothelioma doctor will be able to refer you to medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgical oncology teams that can provide the best cancer treatment for you.
- What treatment methods does the specialist and mesothelioma cancer center provide? Mesothelioma treatment options include chemotherapy, clinical trials, radiation therapy, and surgery. Different mesothelioma doctors will provide different options depending on their specializations.
“My practice philosophy is to treat every patient with the same respect, thoughtfulness, and commitment that I would want for myself or a family member.”
What to Expect at Your First Appointment With a Mesothelioma Doctor
Once you’ve found the best mesothelioma doctor for you, you’ll want to start preparing for your first appointment.
Here are some things you can do prepare for your first appointment:
- Maintain a notebook where you can jot down any questions, concerns, or thoughts you might have. Bringing that list to your doctor will also help you remember to ask questions during your appointment.
- Be mindful of symptoms and take note of daily changes, if any. This will help your doctor understand if the cancer might be progressing and allow them to find other ways to help manage your symptoms.
- Locate job records or write down your work history. This will help your doctor understand your specific risks of asbestos exposure, and it can help support your case for financial compensation.
- Ask a loved one if they can come with you. Having someone you trust at your side may help provide some emotional support.
Your first appointment with your mesothelioma specialist can be nerve-wracking. Remember to write down what is on your mind and talk with loved ones regularly. The best mesothelioma care teams will also work with you to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
Get Help Finding a Mesothelioma Doctor
Support resources are available to help you find a mesothelioma doctor and start receiving treatment.
Mesothelioma support resources include:
- Medical assistance: The Lung Cancer Group team is prepared to help connect you with top mesothelioma doctors in your area so you can get care quickly. We also have nursing support staff available to answer any medical questions you might have.
- Financial assistance: Because mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, patients can pursue compensation with the help of a mesothelioma lawyer. Attorneys can often secure an average of $1 million from the makers of asbestos-containing products. Those funds can help support your treatment and provide some financial security.
- VA benefits: U.S. veterans were exposed to asbestos during their service and as a result are at a greater risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Eligible veterans are able to receive low-cost medical treatment and pursue monthly disability payouts from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
These resources are meant to make battling mesothelioma less stressful so you can focus on getting the best treatment and spending time with loved ones.
Call (877) 446-5767, and our advocates at Lung Cancer Group can help find top mesothelioma doctors and support resources for you today.
FAQs About Mesothelioma Doctors
What is the difference between an oncologist and a mesothelioma specialist?
An oncologist is a type of doctor who provides medical care and treatment for patients with cancer. Because mesothelioma is so unique, mesothelioma specialists have a deep understanding of this particular cancer in addition to the general cancer knowledge of a medical oncologist.
This focused expertise allows mesothelioma doctors to provide individualized treatment plans for mesothelioma patients.
How does a doctor diagnose mesothelioma?
The first step in diagnosing mesothelioma is performing a physical examination. During this exam, doctors will look for any signs and symptoms of mesothelioma. It is also important for patients to provide their medical and work history.
Following the physical exam, doctors will then perform various imaging tests such as chest X-rays and CT scans. If any signs of cancer are visible in these scans, the doctor will perform a biopsy to examine samples for any signs of mesothelioma cancer cells.
What is the life expectancy for mesothelioma patients?
The average mesothelioma life expectancy is 12-21 months. However, life expectancy varies by the patient since each mesothelioma case is so unique.
Depending on the mesothelioma type, cell type, progression of the cancer, and treatment plan, each patient will have a different life expectancy. It is important to work with your mesothelioma specialist to determine the life expectancy for your specific diagnosis.
Does mesothelioma treatment impact life expectancy?
Yes. Mesothelioma treatment is an important factor in improving life expectancy after a cancer diagnosis. Some peritoneal mesothelioma patients, for example, may live for over four years when treated with a combination of chemotherapy and surgery.
What is the best treatment for mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma treatment options include chemotherapy, clinical trials, radiation therapy, and surgery.
The best treatment depends on the type of mesothelioma, what stage it’s in, the patient’s overall health, and many other factors.
Because each patient is different, it is important to work with a top mesothelioma specialist who can create the right treatment plan for you.
How do I find a mesothelioma doctor near me?
There are mesothelioma specialists and mesothelioma cancer centers across the nation. The patient advocates at Lung Cancer Group can help you find top mesothelioma doctors near you. Contact the team to get started.