Skyline view of Abramson Cancer Center. The cancer center consists of several large buildings that are many stories high.

Abramson Cancer Center

Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) is internationally recognized for its high-quality patient care and premier cancer research. The ACC offers more mesothelioma treatment options than most medical facilities. Its Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program provides state-of-the-art treatment, advanced surgical techniques, and access to clinical trials. The ACC treats all types and stages of mesothelioma.

About Abramson Cancer Center

Founded in 1973, the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania is a world leader in cancer care. Since 1974, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has continuously named the ACC a Comprehensive Cancer Center, the NCI’s most prestigious status of excellence in cancer care. In fact, the ACC was one of the first NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation.

The center uses a multidisciplinary approach to treat mesothelioma, in which experts from various fields come together to develop the best treatment plan possible. This approach allows the ACC to address some of the most challenging problems in cancer care.

“We are a life-changing, community-changing, world-changing cancer center.”

—Abramson Cancer Center

The ACC is part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. This impressive health care system includes the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Hospital, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center helps over 300,000 cancer patients every year. This includes providing state-of-the-art treatment to patients with all types of mesothelioma.

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Abramson Cancer Center Location & Overview

The Abramson Cancer Center is the cornerstone of the Penn Cancer Network. This network is made up of a group of hospitals and community practices in the Delaware Valley. It is known for providing exceptional cancer care to patients throughout the greater Philadelphia region and beyond.

The Abramson Cancer Center:

  • Handles over 300,000 outpatient visits and 10,000 discharges for cancer patients annually
  • Provides more than 80,000 chemotherapy and 66,000 radiation treatments each year
  • Is consistently ranked in the top ten cancer treatment centers by U.S. News & World Report
  • Has more mesothelioma treatment options than most hospitals in the world
  • Develops individualized treatment plans for each mesothelioma patient
  • Pioneered the breakthrough of the first cell and gene therapy approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Forged innovations in proton therapy in its Roberts Proton Therapy Center
  • Led the first U.S.-based trial of CRISPR gene editing for cancer patients

Abramson Cancer Center Patient Experience

The Abramson Cancer Center team is devoted to providing compassionate and personal attention to every patient. Mesothelioma patients treated here can expect to work with a caring, multidisciplinary team experienced with the disease.

“The ACC is deeply committed to its mission to improve the lives of adults and children with cancer in the greater Philadelphia area, across the nation, and around the world.”

—Abramson Cancer Center

The ACC caregivers develop highly personalized treatment plans. This means each patient will receive the therapeutic strategy most likely to have the best results for their specific circumstance.

This approach is crucial for mesothelioma patients since each type and stage of mesothelioma requires a customized treatment strategy.

The clinical program at the ACC is made up of:

  • Nurse practitioners
  • Nurses
  • Nutritionists
  • Patient care coordinators
  • Physical therapists
  • Physicians
  • Social workers

Additionally, the Abramson Cancer Center has a reputation for being highly responsive and sensitive to patients’ physical, mental, and emotional needs. The ACC has a wide range of support services tailored to the needs of each patient.

Support services at the Abramson Cancer Center include:

  • Cancer center boutique services
  • Cancer rehabilitation therapy services
  • Exercise oncology
  • Home care services
  • Hospice for cancer patients
  • Integrative oncology services
  • Mindfulness stress reduction program
  • Nutritional counseling and services
  • Oncology navigators
  • Oncology social workers
  • Palliative care
  • Patient and family counseling
  • Pet therapy
  • Smoking cessation while facing cancer
  • Spiritual care
  • Support groups and workshops
  • Transportation to cancer appointments

Abramson Cancer Center Mesothelioma Program

The Abramson Cancer Center’s Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program focuses on providing the best possible therapies for mesothelioma patients.

Firmly dedicated to research, the ACC utilizes the latest medical research and technology advancements to treat patients with proven techniques and ground-breaking therapies.

The mesothelioma program combines the expertise of internationally recognized medical, surgical, pulmonary, and radiation experts. This multidisciplinary team takes a collaborative approach to offer the most advanced treatment, surgical techniques, and clinical trials available.

Conditions treated by the ACC include:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestosis
  • Coal workers pneumoconiosis
  • Other pleural diseases

Though the center primarily treats pleural mesothelioma, the team in its mesothelioma program has the expertise and technology needed to treat peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma as well.

Mesothelioma Doctors at ACC

The mesothelioma doctors at the Abramson Cancer Center are nationally recognized as experts in diagnosing and treating the disease. It is these highly trained specialists on the multidisciplinary care team that make the ACC’s Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program stand out.

“We are consistently recognized nationally and internationally for excellence in health care. The cornerstone of our reputation is our medical and support staff, who choose to dedicate their careers to serving the needs of our patients and community.”

—Abramson Cancer Center

The ACC’s mesothelioma program is made up of:

  • Dr. Steven M. Albelda
  • Dr. Keith Cengel
  • Dr. Christine A. Ciunci
  • Dr. Andrew R. Haas
  • Dr. Bo Jian
  • Dr. Anthony R. Lanfranco
  • Dr. Corey J. Langer
  • Dr. Leslie A. Litzky
  • Dr. Kevin Ma
  • Dr. Melina Elpi Marmarelis
  • Dr. Anna M. Moran
  • Dr. Aditi P. Singh
  • Dr. Sunil Singhal
  • Dr. Jeffrey C. Thompson
  • Dr. Anil Vachani
  • Dr. Suzanne Walker

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Mesothelioma Treatment Options at ACC

The Abramson Cancer Center offers a wide range of mesothelioma treatment options. The highly skilled physicians at the ACC work with each patient to create the best treatment plan. Factors that are considered include the stage and location of mesothelioma and the age and general health of the patient.

Did You Know?

The Abramson Cancer Center’s Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program offers more treatment options for mesothelioma and pleural disease than most medical centers worldwide.

Being able to offer such extensive treatment options is due to the ACC’s diverse team of professionals across a range of fields, its advanced use of research and technology, and its people-first approach to healing.

Treatments and services offered include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Clinical trials
  • Cancer support services
  • Second opinions

As one of the top mesothelioma facilities in the nation, the Abramson Cancer Center offers the latest treatment methods to patients.

Surgery for Mesothelioma

The Abramson Cancer Center has thoracic oncology surgeons with expertise in removing cancers in or around the lungs, including pleural mesothelioma. The ACC is also equipped to perform mesothelioma surgery on patients with other types of the disease.

Surgical options for mesothelioma may include:

  • Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP): This surgery involves removing the lung, the lung lining and heart lining, part of the diaphragm, and all visible cancer tumors.
  • Indwelling Pleural Catheter (IPC): This procedure is used in patients with pleural effusions (fluid buildup in the lungs) that keep coming back. It involves inserting a device into the chest cavity to remove excess fluid while the patient remains at home.
  • Pleurectomy or Peritonectomy: Doctors remove the lining around the lungs (pleurectomy) or the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritonectomy) as well as all cancer tumors they can see. These surgeries may be combined with photodynamic therapy.
  • Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS): This technique can be used to perform biopsies (which are crucial to making a diagnosis) or remove tumors. This surgery is less invasive and intense than others.
  • Peritoneal Cytoreductive Surgery: Also called debulking surgery, this procedure involves removing as much of the tumor in peritoneal mesothelioma patients as possible. It is often combined with radiation or chemotherapy.
  • Pleural Sclerosis and Fibrinolytics: These procedures prevent pleural effusions from coming back. Agents such as antibiotics and talc may be used to eliminate the space in which air or fluid can build.
  • Therapeutic Thoracentesis: This is considered a simple procedure in which a needle is inserted into the pleural space to relieve symptoms of pleural effusions and ease lung pressure, making breathing easier.
  • Thoracotomy: This procedure involves making an incision between the ribs to remove all or part of the lung while avoiding the heart and spinal cord.

Other treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, often are used in combination with surgery. A combination of treatments helps to ensure as much of the cancer is removed as possible.

Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma

The Department of Radiation Oncology at the ACC is committed to its mission of “Excellence is Standard.” It is one of the most comprehensive radiation oncology programs in the world, offering patients nearly every radiation treatment option available.

The ACC performs radiation oncology at the Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine and seven community-based locations.

Radiation therapy offered at the ACC includes:

  • Brachytherapy
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Proton therapy
  • Volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT)

Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma

The ACC also offers photodynamic therapy, which was brought to the center by Dr. Joseph Friedberg, who founded the Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program.

Photodynamic therapy uses low-level beams of light to target cancer cells. Mesothelioma patients undergoing the treatment will take a light-sensitive medication before surgery.

Once the visible tumors and cancer are removed, a light source is applied to the treatment area. It then interacts with the light-sensitive medication to create a cancer-killing chemical that destroys microscopic cancer cells.

Other Mesothelioma Treatment Options

The medical oncologists at the Abramson Cancer Center have ample experience using chemotherapy for mesothelioma to treat patients. The ACC develops and administers chemotherapy through an IV, by pill, or by liquid.

Chemotherapy can be highly effective for treating mesothelioma, especially when combined with other therapies.

The Abramson Cancer Center also offers immunotherapy for mesothelioma. Immunotherapy uses synthetic or biological agents to boost the body’s immune system and eliminate cancer cells.

For example, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy is used at the ACC. This is one of the newest and most promising immunotherapy treatments that Penn Medicine helped pioneer.

“The ACC is an international leader in cancer immunotherapy, pioneering the breakthrough of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy.”

—National Cancer Institute (NCI)

CAR T cell medications were first approved by the FDA in 2017 to treat certain forms of cancer. Now, the groundbreaking therapy is currently being tested in clinical trials for mesothelioma patients.

Clinical Trials, Studies, & Research at Abramson Cancer Center

The Abramson Cancer Center continuously conducts mesothelioma clinical trials for patients with various stages of mesothelioma. The aim of ongoing cancer research and clinical trials is to improve treatment options and survival rates.

Did You Know?

The ACC regularly conducts almost 600 clinical trials with over 9,000 participants.

Highlights of its mesothelioma research program include:

  • A major center for mesothelioma clinical trials, allowing it to offer the newest and best treatment options
  • Researchers who are international leaders in lung cancer
  • Funding and a grant from the NCI, allowing the ACC to develop and work on promising new treatments
  • Phase I and II trials, including a mesothelioma tumor vaccine, gene therapy for mesothelioma, and various combination therapies

Each clinical trial and research program at the ACC is meant to further the world’s understanding of cancer and the ability to treat it more effectively. Significant progress towards a mesothelioma cure has been made over the past couple of decades, and the ACC is continuing to work towards that goal.

“Cumulatively, members of the ACC have led or co-led studies that resulted in multiple FDA approvals of cancer therapies ranging from immunotherapy to targeted therapy to robotic surgery.”

—National Cancer Institute (NCI)

While the ACC has ongoing mesothelioma clinical trials, it is important to understand that they are only a good fit for some patients. Talk with your doctor if you are interested in participating in a mesothelioma clinical trial.

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Penn Medicine Insurance Information

Penn Medicine and the Abramson Cancer Center accept most commercial health insurance plans.

Medicare Advantage, Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Managed Care (Medicaid), Community HealthChoices (CHC), and Affordable Care Act (ACA) Exchange are also accepted.

Insurance plans accepted at Abramson Cancer Center include:

  • Aetna
  • Aetna Behavioral Health
  • Amerihealth of NJ
  • Amerihealth Administrators
  • Blue Cross & Blue Shield Association
  • Centivo
  • Cigna Health Plan
  • Cigna Behavioral Health
  • Claim Watcher
  • Clover Health
  • Community Behavioral Health
  • Devon Health
  • First Health, First Health Global
  • Geisinger Plan (excludes Chester County Hospital)
  • HealthSmart (World Trade Center Program)
  • Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ (Chester County Hospital participates in the PPO/POS Blue Card program)
  • Humana (Choicecare Network) (excludes Chester County Hospital)
  • Humana Military (Tricare)
  • Imagine Health
  • Independence Blue Cross
  • Intergroup
  • Keystone Autism Services
  • Keystone Health Plan East (includes CHIP)
  • Magellan (Penn Presbyterian Medical Center Only)
  • Multiplan
  • Oscar Health Plan
  • Oxford Health Plan
  • Preferred HealthCare
  • Premier Network (Devon employee group)
  • Provider Partners Health Plan
  • Qualcare (excludes Chester County Hospital)
  • United Behavioral Health
  • UnitedHealthcare
  • U.S. Family Health Plan (excludes Chester County Hospital)
  • Veteran’s Insurance/VA Community Care Network (Optum)/Champ VA

Plans and coverage options for patients occasionally change as the hospital strives to work with insurance providers to treat as many people as possible. Contact your insurance carrier for the most up-to-date information on accepted insurance plans.

Seeking Mesothelioma Treatment at Abramson Cancer Center

The Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program at the ACC is one of the best mesothelioma programs in the world for many reasons. It has nationally recognized experts on staff, offers more treatment options than most other medical facilities, and conducts cutting-edge research.

If you want to seek treatment at the ACC, you can request an appointment online. You can also get dedicated assistance from Mesothelioma Hope.

Our Patient Advocates can review your diagnosis, answer your questions, and help match you with mesothelioma cancer centers that best meet your treatment goals.

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Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Abramson Cancer Center. Any contact information listed is for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Abramson Cancer Center directly.

Written by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 14 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

6 References
  1. About the Abramson Cancer Center. Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center. (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.pennmedicine.org/cancer/about

  2. Abramson Cancer Center. National Cancer Institute. (2021, February 8). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.cancer.gov/research/infrastructure/cancer-centers/find/upennabramson

  3. Keith A. Cengel. Perelman School of Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.med.upenn.edu/apps/faculty/index.php/g275/p4600661

  4. Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program. Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center. (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.pennmedicine.org/cancer/navigating-cancer-care/programs-and-centers/mesothelioma-and-pleural-disease-program

  5. Penn Medicine Developed CAR T Cell Therapy Wins Third FDA Approval. Penn Medicine News. (2022, May 28). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2022/may/penn-medicine-developed-car-t-cell-therapy-wins-third-fda-approval

  6. Welcome to the Department of Radiation Oncology. Welcome to the Department of Radiation Oncology | Department of Radiation Oncology | Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.xrt.upenn.edu/

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