One of the most important decisions mesothelioma patients and their families make is where to receive treatment. Top cancer centers across the country treat mesothelioma at all stages.
With the world’s most experienced oncologists, surgeons and radiologists leading their programs, these mesothelioma treatment facilities provide the best patient care available.
Mesothelioma Cancer Centers Overview
A mesothelioma cancer center is a full-service health care facility with programs dedicated to mesothelioma treatment.
Here’s what patients need to know about finding and choosing a mesothelioma cancer center:
- Cancer centers are located all over the country and some may be near you
- There are over 20 different cancer centers currently accepting mesothelioma patients
- Treatment programs are led by top thoracic surgeons and other specialists, as well as a team of dedicated support staff
- Administrators work with multiple insurance companies to ensure your coverage is processed
- Cancer centers often have their own mesothelioma research initiatives in-house testing the latest in treatment technology
What is a Mesothelioma Cancer Center?
Mesothelioma cancer centers are comprehensive treatment facilities that put patient care first. Teams of multidisciplinary health professionals lead the care programs at these facilities. These doctors have decades of experience in diagnosing, treating and researching mesothelioma.
The Advantage of Comprehensive Cancer Centers
Cancer centers are known for their commitment to cancer research and staying on top of the latest advancements in rare cancers.
Benefits of a mesothelioma cancer center include:
- Experience treating rare cancers, including mesotheliomas
- Full-service, personalized treatment from diagnosis to follow-up
- Access to in-house research initiatives and clinical trial programs for top treatment technologies
You’ll find that while every mesothelioma center deals with the same disease, each center has unique approaches and philosophies. For example, some centers believe in administering the most aggressive forms of treatment, while others take a more conservative approach.
It’s critical for patients to look into different cancer centers and get to know each one. Knowing what each facility stands for can help patients choose a center that’s right for them.
Why Seek Treatment at a Mesothelioma Cancer Center?
For mesothelioma patients, the type and level of care they receive is the difference between life and death. Mesothelioma is rare, with only 3,000 new cases annually in America. Because of its rarity, it’s extremely difficult for general oncologists to understand mesothelioma, let alone treat it effectively.
Here’s why patients and their families are strongly encouraged to visit mesothelioma cancer centers for their entire treatment experience:
Get the Right Diagnosis
Mesothelioma can be very hard to diagnose. Not only is it extremely rare, but it also behaves differently than other types of lung or abdominal cancers. Mesothelioma cancer cells can be easily mistaken for other types of cancer cells, even by the most experienced general oncologist.
The intricacies of mesothelioma put patients at high risk of a misdiagnosis. A misdiagnosis is a terrible mistake that puts patients on an incorrect treatment plan.
Treating a problem that the patient doesn’t have wastes precious time and allows for the mesothelioma to spread more. There is a lot involved in diagnosing mesothelioma, and each factor plays into which type of treatment will ultimately work. Only specialists can make these time-sensitive decisions for mesothelioma patients.
Mesothelioma is so complex, and its care so specialized, that a patient really needs the best care in the world. — Dr. Avi Lebenthal
Receive Life-Saving, Specialized Treatment
Treatment is the only way to extend a mesothelioma patient’s life. Once a patient has received an accurate diagnosis by a specialist, the lead oncologist works with their multidisciplinary team to devise the best treatment plan possible. No matter what mesothelioma stage the patient has, these cancer centers have the physicians who know how to treat it.
Cancer center teams provide lifesaving treatments from radiation therapy to chemotherapy to aggressive, tumor-removing surgeries. It’s this multimodal approach to specialized treatment that can improve a patient’s prognosis and extend their life.
Working with several experts across different specialties gives mesothelioma patients the best shot at survival.
Even for late-stage patients, palliative treatments administered by mesothelioma specialists can greatly improve quality of life.
Benefit from Clinical Trials
New treatments are regularly being tested through clinical trials. Mesothelioma patients should visit specialized cancer centers so that they can access these upcoming treatments. The latest research in mesothelioma prevention, diagnosis and treatment are underway at certain cancer centers across America.
Cancer centers are hubs of research activity. They are staffed with physicians and scientists committed to thinking outside the box when it comes to treatment technology.
Research is conducted in clinical trial settings right in the research departments of these cancer institutes. General hospitals rarely offer access to these types of advanced treatments.
Clinical Trials Update
Eligible patients can undergo these groundbreaking treatments directly at their cancer center. Whether it’s access to the latest chemotherapy drugs or new immunotherapy techniques — a type of treatment that enhances the patient’s immune system to better fight cancer cells—mesothelioma patients are given the opportunity to undergo life-extending therapies.
Any time a cure is found for any disease, it’s because of the research in clinical trials at specialized institutes like cancer centers.
Who Works at Mesothelioma Cancer Centers?
Treatment programs at cancer centers are led by top mesothelioma doctors. These specialists have all been trained, taught or mentored by the world’s most renowned mesothelioma doctors like Dr. Avi Lebenthal at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The best mesothelioma treatment programs in the nation consist of a robust team of experts, each specializing in their own branch of oncological medicine.
At a mesothelioma cancer center, you can expect to work with many of the following types of medical professionals:
- Surgical oncologists
- Medical oncologists
- Radiation oncologists
- Oncology nurses and nursing staff
Additionally, cancer centers typically have on-site support personnel including:
- Social workers
- Chaplains, ministers and other faith-based leaders
- Grief counselors
- Hospice care workers
- Psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health professionals
Each individual plays a crucial role in delivering full-service, high-quality patient care. A diverse and knowledgeable team like those at cancer centers ensures the best mesothelioma treatment experience possible.
How to Choose a Mesothelioma Cancer Center
Choosing a mesothelioma cancer center is a personal decision. But there are some general considerations each patient should make when reviewing their cancer center options.
Here are four things experts recommend factoring into your choice of cancer center:
It’s vital that whichever cancer center you choose has a solid background in treating your exact type of mesothelioma. This includes not only mesothelioma location but cell type and stage as well. Some specialists don’t feel confident treating end-stage mesothelioma, while for others it has become their focus.
Where the cancer center is located is another major consideration. Many patients can’t travel far and prefer to visit centers as close to home as possible. Other patients can travel across the country to visit the center of their choice. For patients located in remote regions like Alaska, travel is necessary.
Most mesothelioma cancer centers go above and beyond to accommodate the patient’s insurance requirements. But before moving ahead with your choice in a cancer center, be sure to contact an administrator directly to learn more about how their insurance process works. You can also ask about how insurance gets processed and any other administrative details that are important, such as access to your health records.
Access to New Therapies
A final and crucial consideration for all mesothelioma patients is whether or a not a cancer center has ongoing clinical trials they can participate in. New therapies being tested in clinical trials at various cancer centers have meant the difference between a few months and a few years to live for some patients.
Mesothelioma patients deserve the absolute best in treatment technology and must make sure their chosen center can provide it.
Where Can I Find a Mesothelioma Cancer Center?
Mesothelioma cancer centers are located throughout the country. Many patients visit the closest nearby cancer center or travel out of state for treatment.
Patients can also get referrals from local physicians to nearby mesothelioma cancer centers. You can contact the cancer centers directly, or call a Mesothelioma Hope Patient Advocate for help on getting in touch with a cancer center.
Mesothelioma patients should also look for cancer centers based on their diagnosis. Certain programs only specialize in pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma, so it’s important to consider this before deciding on a center.
Here are examples of mesothelioma cancer centers based on patient needs:
Pleural Mesothelioma Cancer Centers
Pleural mesothelioma is by far the most common disease form. As such, there are numerous cancer centers across the country specializing in diagnosing and treating pleural mesothelioma.
These cancer centers have all developed comprehensive pleural mesothelioma treatment programs. They have dedicated research, technology and clinical trial programs all geared towards finding a cure.
Here are three of the top pleural mesothelioma centers in the nation:
- Home of the International Mesothelioma Program, one of the most comprehensive mesothelioma research programs in the world
- Led by Dr. Raphael Bueno
- Birthplace of the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) surgical procedure
- Receives major funding for mesothelioma treatment research
- Led by Dr. Hedy Lee Kindler
- Home to ongoing clinical trials for novel vaccine therapies
- Provides tailored treatment plans focused on improving prognosis and maintaining quality of life
- Led by Dr. Anne Tsao
- Leading mesothelioma research facility studying targeted therapies
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Cancer Centers
Though peritoneal mesothelioma is less common, its treatment options have improved drastically in the past 10 years. The progress in peritoneal mesothelioma treatment is attributed to a handful of leading cancer centers dedicated to finding new and novel ways of treating this deadly disease.
Here are some of the top peritoneal mesothelioma treatment facilities in the country:
- Offers specialized treatment plans for peritoneal mesothelioma patients
- Led by Dr. Paul Sugarbaker
- Home of the Peritoneal Surface Malignancies program dedicated to treating rare abdominal cancers
- Home to the Mesothelioma Speciality Care Program
- Led by Dr. David Bartlett and Dr. James Pingpank
- Participates in the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank (NMVB), an online database of past mesothelioma patients’ blood, tissue and DNA samples
- Home to the Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center
- Peritoneal mesothelioma treatment led by specialist Dr. Sophie Dessureault
- Tailors treatment approaches to each patient using the expertise of a multidisciplinary team
Cancer Centers for Veterans
Veterans have access to specialized healthcare programs that civilians don’t. Through the Veterans Health Administration system, veterans with mesothelioma can be treated at any of the nation’s VA cancer centers.
Many veterans opt to use the VA Healthcare System because the professionals working in these facilities sympathize with the unique struggles that veterans and their families face. Additionally, these centers can help veterans with their claims and understand their rights when it comes to treatment and compensation.
Here are three VA cancer centers specialized in treating vets with mesothelioma:
- Serves veterans from across the country
- Led by Dr. Avi Lebenthal
- National research and treatment development center associated with Harvard Medical School
- Largest VA hospital in the nation
- Treats pleural mesothelioma using the lung-saving procedure, pleurectomy with decortication
- Serves over 120,000 Texan veterans
- Affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston
View more information on receiving mesothelioma treatment through the VA Health Care System.
Get the Treatment You Deserve
Mesothelioma patients require swift and specialized medical intervention that addresses their unique and rare diagnosis. Only designated National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Centers have the expertise and technology necessary to provide treatments to improve prognosis. There are currently 70 NCI-designated Cancer Centers across the country.