- Specialty Pleural Mesothelioma
- Procedure Proton Therapy
- MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 1515 Holcombe Blvd. Houston, Texas 77030
About Dr. Anne Tsao
Dr. Tsao believes in individual, patient-based care, and that personalized treatment plans should be developed for each and every mesothelioma patient. This approach is unique in the medical community, where “one size fits all” solutions are often prescribed.
In addition to directing MD Anderson’s mesothelioma program, Dr. Tsao also practices at the Park Plaza Hospital and Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center, and is a professor in the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology at AD Anderson.
Dr. Tsao is a leader in her field when it comes to researching malignant mesothelioma and thoracic oncology. Currently, she is focusing on finding new gene therapy treatments for mesothelioma.
Awards and Contributions
Dr. Tsao has been recognized for her tireless efforts to find a cure or new methods of treatment.
She has been recognized with the following awards:
- American Society of Clinical Oncology Merit Award
- MD Anderson Achievement in Research Award
- Head and Neck SPORE Career Development Award
- ASCO Young Investigator Award
- ASCO Career Development Award
- NIH Clinician Scientist K12 Award
Based on her research and that of her teams, she has written or co-authored more than 100 publications in a variety of academic journals.
Her research is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Journal of Thoracic Oncology, Cancer, Nature Medicine Clinical Oncology, and Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.
Memberships and Organizations
Dr. Anne Tsao serves on many committees, boards, and is an active member of many national and international oncology societies.
She is a member of the following organizations:
- MDACC Clinical Research Committee (Co-Chair)
- SWOG (formerly known as the Southwest Oncology Group) Mesothelioma Steering Committee
- SWOG Lung Executive Committee
- Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) Lung Executive Committee
- Scientific Board of the American Radium Society
On top of that, she works with ASCO and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to lobby the U.S. Congress to improve the amounts of funding they provide for cancer research.
As it currently stands, the government only approves eight out of every 100 research grant proposals they receive.
Dr. Taso is also a member of the following medical research associations:
- International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer
- Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
- American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) development program
Dr. Tsao began her medical studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she earned a bachelor’s in molecular biology. She then achieved her M.D. from the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago.
Dr. Tsao performed her residency at the Indiana University Department of Internal Medicine, before completing her fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. At the end of her formal education, Dr. Tsao stayed at the Anderson Cancer Center and is now a Professor in the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Oncology.
Dr. Tsao has led several innovative clinical trials, many of which focus on the treatment of malignant (cancerous) mesothelioma. Dr. Tsao has also researched other forms of lung cancer, and her research has been featured in numerous publications.
“There is truly no better feeling than seeing a patient do well on a clinical trial that you were instrumental in developing or had the original idea to do.”
– Dr. Anne Tsao
Dr. Anne Tsao is a leader in her field when it comes to researching mesothelioma and studying thoracic oncology.
Like most leading experts, she believes that the best way to treat mesothelioma is from a multidisciplinary perspective — working cooperatively with other specialists like radiologists, oncologists, and surgeons.
To provide her patients with the best care, she and her teams use individualized treatment plans that include novel therapies like immunotherapy or proton therapy.
Every patient and every instance of mesothelioma is unique, which is why Dr. Tsao supports individualized treatment plans.
Instead of following a single treatment plan for all of her patients, she works with her patients to figure out which treatment paths are most effective depending on disease stage, prognosis, and available treatments.
At this time, Dr. Tsao is the principal investigator for several of MDACC’s active clinical trials. When it comes to research, Dr. Tsao concentrates on the molecular components of cancer so she can further individualize treatment plans.
Dr. Tsao spends her time focusing on genes, such as the SRC kinase gene, and proteins, like N-cadherin, to determine their connection to cancer.
Once she’s determined the relationship between genes or proteins and mesothelioma, she and other researchers use that knowledge to look for new treatment methods or better diagnostic methods.
Dr. Tsao is the National Health Institute’s (NHI) principal investigator for phase 1 and 2 of a trial that’s testing pemetrexed and cisplatin (standard mesothelioma chemotherapy drugs) with or without cediranib maleate — a substance that may inhibit tumor growth — to treat pleural mesothelioma.
The study is trying to determine what the best dosage of cediranib maleate would be when used with the other chemotherapy drugs.
One of Dr. Tsao’s areas of expertise is proton therapy. While proton therapy has been used to treat other forms of cancer, she helped develop this procedure as a treatment option for mesothelioma.
Proton therapy is a form of external-beam radiation therapy. In proton therapy, the radiation travels from a machine outside of the patient, through their skin and to the tumor.
Studies are suggesting that proton therapy delivers up to 60% less radiation to the healthy cells surrounding the tumor than conventional radiation therapies.
Targeted proton therapy likely produces less severe side effects than those from standard radiation.
Unlike photon-based external-beam radiation therapy, the protons or high energy positively charged particles used in proton therapy go to specific places within the body without damaging additional cells.
Part of the reason for that is the protons stop at the tumor, but with standard X-rays, the rays continue to deposit radiation as they leave the body.
In addition to her study for NHI on using cediranib maleate combined with other chemotherapy drugs, Dr. Tsao is currently studying how peptide vaccines boost a patient’s immune system.
Boosting the immune system — a therapy called immunotherapy — gives the patient a greater ability to combat mesothelioma.
Her immunotherapy study looks at whether peptide vaccines reduce recurrence (when the mesothelioma comes back) in pleural mesothelioma patients who have undergone either pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) or extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) surgery.
The study is set to finish in 2019.
Dr. Tsao’s Healing Philosophy
Dr. Tsao has been an advocate for individualized patient plans, helping the medical community see the value in developing personalized strategies for treating various forms of lung cancer.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is devoted to cancer prevention, treatment, education and research. It is highly respected throughout the world due to its exclusive devotion to cancer care. The Center’s mission is to eliminate cancer globally through integrated programs that combine patient care, education and cancer research.
The MD Anderson Cancer Center’s core values are Caring, Integrity, and Discovery.
Dr. Tsao also follows MD Anderson’s Thoracic/Head and Neck Oncology mission, which strives to provide high-quality patient care while simultaneously preventing aerodigestive cancers and advancing treatment options through laboratory research and clinical trials.
Getting Specialized Mesothelioma Treatment
Patients can feel confident they’re receiving the most current standard of care because Dr. Anne Tsao is at the forefront of mesothelioma treatment research.
Patients working with Dr. Tsao will quickly learn that she is a kind and compassionate doctor. She takes the time to listen to her patients’ concerns. Her patients can trust that the treatments she suggests are the best options for them because all plans are tailored to the patient’s specific situation.
If you would like more information about working with Dr. Anne Tsao or another pleural mesothelioma specialist, contact our Support Team today.