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Van Elslander Cancer Center

Van Elslander Cancer Center at Ascension St. John Hospital is a multidisciplinary cancer center in Michigan. It is one of a few facilities that specialize in treating peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen. It’s also home to one of the country’s top heated chemotherapy (HIPEC) programs.

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About Van Elslander Cancer Center

Located outside of Detroit, Michigan, Van Elslander Cancer Center is one of the few that specializes in treating peritoneal mesothelioma, which forms in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum).

Here’s what patients should know about this mesothelioma treatment facility:

  • First medical center in Michigan to provide hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), the gold standard in treating peritoneal mesothelioma treatment
  • Home to leading oncology physicians and surgeons, diagnostic facilities, and traditional therapies
  • Offers advanced intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Provides multidisciplinary care in a single building

Van Elslander Cancer Center uses a multidisciplinary approach to treating mesothelioma, where a team of doctors from different fields will see the patients.

“Your doctor will take the time to answer all your questions — big and small. By them getting to know you and working together, you get a care plan that is customized to your needs.”

—Van Elslander Cancer Center

Van Elslander Cancer Center is part of Ascension Health, one of the country’s largest health care systems. The cancer center is a specialty care facility of St. John Hospital.

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Mesothelioma Program at Van Elslander Cancer Center

One of the specializations at Van Elslander is treating peritoneal mesothelioma. Dr. Richard Berri leads the peritoneal mesothelioma treatment program, which was the first of its kind in the state.

Dr. Berri and other Van Elslander mesothelioma doctors use cytoreduction with HIPEC to treat peritoneal mesothelioma. This two-part surgery allows doctors to remove cancer tumors from the abdominal cavity, and then bathe the surgical site in warm chemotherapy drugs.

Dr. Berri and his team have performed over 400 HIPEC procedures to date since 2011, when he first came to Van Elslander.

“I began to operate on and take care of patients with mesothelioma and developed a strong interest in the treatment needed and how best to ensure patients with peritoneal mesothelioma would receive the best care with the highest quality outcome.”

—Dr. Richard Berri, Chief of Surgical Oncology at Van Elslander Cancer Center

Mesothelioma Doctors at Van Elslander Cancer Center

The mesothelioma doctors at Van Elslander Cancer Center take a collaborative and comprehensive approach to developing the best treatment plan for each patient.

Van Elslander Cancer Center doctors are dedicated to developing the most effective care plan customized for each patient. Minimally invasive treatments and approaches are recommended whenever possible.

Dr. Richard Berri is the Chief of Surgical Oncology, Director of the Peritoneal Malignancies Program, and Director of the Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) Program.

Dr. Berri began working with peritoneal mesothelioma patients in 2008 at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. This experience developed his strong interest in HIPEC.

Mesothelioma patient care teams at Van Elslander are made up of:

  • Medical oncology specialists
  • Oncology-certified nurses
  • Palliative care specialists
  • Radiation oncology specialists
  • Surgical oncologists

The mesothelioma doctors at Van Elslander Cancer Center work hard to provide each patient with the best surgical care and outcome possible and extend and improve their quality of life.

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Mesothelioma Treatment Options

While Van Elslander Cancer Center treats all forms of mesothelioma, it specializes in treating peritoneal mesothelioma through a team of oncologists and specialists dedicated to treating the rare disease.

Did You Know?

Van Elslander Cancer Center has one of the country’s highest-volume nationally recognized HIPEC programs.

Mesothelioma treatment is determined for each patient on an individual basis and may include:

  • Cytoreductive surgery: Used for peritoneal mesothelioma patients, the procedure involves removing as much visible cancer as possible from the peritoneum. This specialized surgery is often used in combination with HIPEC.
  • Hyperthermic peritoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC): A patient receives a cycle of warmed chemotherapy drugs. These drugs are circulated throughout the abdomen to any cancer cells left over after cytoreductive surgery.
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): An advanced radiation therapy that uses a high dose of radiation tailored to the tumor so it causes less damage to surrounding areas. The procedure uses computer-controlled X-ray accelerators to guide the dosage to the tumors.
  • Chemotherapy: Outside of HIPEC, doctors can use standard chemotherapy given through an IV to treat patients.

Mesothelioma treatment may also involve immunotherapy and targeted therapy, including cancer vaccines and gene therapy.

Van Elslander Cancer Center Patient Experience

The physicians, surgeons, and other staff members at Van Elslander Cancer Center aim to treat every mesothelioma patient as a member of their own family.

This is done through a multidisciplinary approach, which means that patients have access to the knowledge and experience of various care providers.

“You’ll have face-to-face visits with your doctor, and you’ll have an entire care team dedicated to your care – connecting the dots for you. Every appointment with our experienced and compassionate oncology specialists starts with a conversation.”

—Van Elslander Cancer Center

The center believes it’s important for patients and their families to be informed about their prognosis and treatment options.

That’s why there is a Cancer Resource Center on-site where patients can relax, read, and learn what to expect and what questions they should ask their medical team.

Patient care providers at Van Elsander Cancer Center include:

  • Oncologists (cancer doctors)
  • Registered nurses
  • Rehabilitation therapists
  • Social workers

These services are all offered in a single building, making the patient experience very convenient.

Van Elslander Cancer Center also places great importance on its patients’ mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Patients can relieve some of their stress, anxiety, and fear with access to:

  • Massage therapists
  • Medical hypnotherapists
  • Reflexologists
  • Tai chi instructors
  • Yoga classes

All of these options make Van Elslander a top cancer center for those fighting peritoneal mesothelioma.

Clinical Trials and Research at Van Elslander Cancer Center

While Van Elslander Cancer Center focuses more on patient care and treatment than research, its medical teams still match their patients with appropriate mesothelioma clinical trials.

These trials test the safety and efficacy of new drug treatments, radiation technologies (like IMRT), and surgeries. Clinical trials are incredibly important for patients with mesothelioma and other cancers as they may offer another option if traditional therapies don’t work.

You should talk with your doctor if you are interested in finding a mesothelioma clinical trial. Download our Free Questions to Ask Your Doctor Checklist to ensure you get the information you need during your appointment.

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Van Elslander Cancer Center Insurance Information

Van Elslander Cancer Center accepts most health insurance plans. Patients’ plans and coverage options occasionally change as the hospital strives to work with insurance providers to treat as many people as possible.

For the most accurate information, please get in touch with your health care insurance provider before beginning treatment at St John Hospital Van Elslander Cancer Center.

Seeking Mesothelioma Treatment at Van Elslander Cancer Center

For dedicated assistance with all of your mesothelioma questions and needs, including seeking care at Van Elslander Cancer Center or other top mesothelioma treatment centers, you can connect with a Patient Advocate at Mesothelioma Hope.

With over 45 years of combined experience, our Patient Advocates offer personalized guidance to mesothelioma patients and their families.

Contact our team today to start your treatment journey — we’re standing by 24/7 to support you.

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

Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

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  1. Ascension Michigan leading in Hipec Care. Ascension. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2024,  from
  2. Detroit Ascension St John Hospital. Ascension. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2024, from
  3. Grosse Pointe Woods van Elslander Cancer Center. Ascension. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2024, from
  4. Dr. Richard Berri. HIPEC Treatment. (2022, November 23). Retrieved May 8, 2024, from
  5. Richard N. Berri, MD. Richard Nazih Berri – Surgery | Surgical Oncology. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2024, from
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