Top Pleural Mesothelioma Doctors and Specialists Near You
Only an experienced pleural mesothelioma specialist can properly diagnose and treat this rare disease. We work with the top doctors around the country and help patients find the best treatment team for their individual diagnosis.
Although pleural is the most common type of mesothelioma, it is still a rare cancer with about 2,000 to 3,000 people diagnosed in the United States each year. Sometimes it may seem as if doctors who specialize in treating this disease are as rare as the cancer itself, but finding a specialist should be your number one priority.
That's why we are here to help you find the specialist who fits your specific diagnosis. Our free Doctor Match program puts you in contact with the best doctors who can give you a fighting chance. We can even help you access funds to help you or your family cover the expenses associated with treatment, travel and accommodation.
Why Do I Need a Specialist?
Finding a specialist is extremely important. Only experienced doctors who have diagnosed and treated this disease before can offer you the most promising and most accurate prognosis.
Knowledge and Experience
Specialists offer knowledge, experience and skill. They know the intricacies and subtleties of the disease and have access to the latest advances in technology and treatment options. Doctors with years of experience know this disease better than anyone and are better prepared for the challenges associated with it.
They also have the ability to accurately diagnosis this type of cancer while developing a treatment plan unique to your situation. A specialist with experience diagnosing and treating different stages and cell types of pleural mesothelioma can give you the best possible prognosis.
Doctors inexperienced with the diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma can make a number of costly mistakes. For one, they may misdiagnose your cancer as a less severe respiratory condition, delaying proper treatment. They could also misjudge the stage of your cancer and start a treatment plan that is ineffective for your current stage of disease.
What to Consider When Choosing a Doctor
Several factors can help you choose the right doctor to oversee your care. Consider the following factors before making a final decision:
First and foremost, your doctor should have years of experience treating pleural mesothelioma. Depending upon what stage you are diagnosed at, you’ll want to select doctors who specialize in the kind of treatment you’ll benefit from the most. For example, not everyone is diagnosed early enough to qualify for surgery, but those who do qualify should select a mesothelioma doctor who specializes in thoracic surgery. If you don’t qualify for surgery, select oncologists who specialize in chemotherapy or radiation therapy for pleural mesothelioma.
Compassion and Understanding
The connection and relationship you develop with your doctor is important. Find a doctor who makes you feel comfortable, and who is accessible and open to discussions about your goals and concerns. Ask yourself if you feel like you can communicate clearly with the doctor you are considering. If you respect the doctor, feel comfortable around them and believe they will communicate well with you, you’ve found a good contender.
Depending on where you live, you may have to travel to see the specialist with whom you feel the most comfortable. This can be expensive, but some specialty centers help with transportation and lodging costs if you have to travel a considerable distance. Travel grants are also available and our patient advocates can help you apply. Traveling for treatment may sound stressful, but it could help you access top-notch care and the latest advancements in treatment.
Quality of Cancer Center
Sometimes doctors are only as good as the tools at their disposal. Make sure to ask your doctor how their cancer center compares to others in the country. This is especially important if you are a candidate for surgery because you want the latest technology being used by your surgical team. The best cancer centers for pleural mesothelioma have doctors who specialize in all forms of effective treatment for mesothelioma, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
You’ll probably want a doctor who is part of your health care plan, a preferred provider or at least a doctor who accepts your insurance. It is no surprise that medical bills can add up, even with an in-network doctor. Insurance companies are notorious for denying coverage, but you can appeal denied claims and learn more about financial assistance options. Our patient advocates can help answer insurance questions and provide information on financial assistance.
Best in The Field
Not all doctors are the same, and they all don't have the same interest in treating mesothelioma, which is difficult to treat successfully. Some on this list are surgeons, while others are pulmonologists or thoracic oncologists. Some treat pleural mesothelioma and others treat the peritoneal variety.
David Sugarbaker, M.D.
Lung Institute at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
Sugarbaker spent more than 20 years at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he built his reputation as the nation’s foremost authority on mesothelioma. He moved to Baylor in 2014, where he plans to build the finest facility in the world, combining well-funded research with clinical excellence.
Robert Cameron, M.D.
UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
Cameron has pioneered the development of the lung-sparing pleurectomy/decortication surgery that has helped so many patients. He has lobbied relentlessly against the more radical extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery still being done in other centers. He is the driving force behind the Pacific Meso Center, which has its own research and development arm. He also is part of the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare System.
Charles Conway, M.D.
Ochsner Cancer Institute, New Orleans
Conway has assumed a leadership role in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma almost by necessity. Louisiana for years has been a leader in mesothelioma incidence rates, but until Conway arrived in 2009, the state was lacking a mesothelioma specialty center. The Ochsner Cancer Institute is now filling the role.
Jacques Fontaine, M.D.
Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa
Fontaine recently became director of the revamped Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center at Moffitt after joining the multi-disciplinary staff in 2011. He was trained at Brigham and Women’s Hospital under David Sugarbaker and also worked at the Brown Medical School in Providence, R.I., where he developed a thoracic surgery program.
Prashant Shah, M.D.
Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia
Shah has carved his niche as one of America’s brightest young thoracic surgeons, quickly earning the respect and admiration of his mesothelioma patients and their families. He has helped pioneer the most up-to-date surgical advances. “Attitudes toward mesothelioma are changing,” he said. “There is real reason now for hope.”
Paul Sugarbaker, M.D.
Cancer Institute at Washington Hospital Center, DC
Many consider Sugarbaker one of the nation’s innovators and authorities on peritoneal mesothelioma. The Washington-trained surgeon is best known for developing The Sugarbaker Procedure — a life-saving peritoneal mesothelioma treatment where a surgeon removes all visible tumors from the abdominal area and then bathes that region with a heated chemotherapy solution that kills any cancer cells that remain.
Hedy Kindler, M.D.
University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago
Kindler is the director of the Mesothelioma Program, seeing more than 100 mesothelioma patients annually. Her research has been at the forefront of recent advances in therapy for the disease. “This is not a one-size-fits-all disease anymore,” she said. “We have therapies now that can be tailored to the patient.”
Daniel Sterman, M.D.
New York University Langone Medical Center, New York
Sterman is the clinical director of the Multidisciplinary Pulmonary Oncology Program at New York University Langone Medical Center. He is the one who bridges the gap between medical research and the latest therapies for mesothelioma, a disease he is determined to beat.
Raja Flores, M.D.
Mount Sinai Hospital, New York
Flores became chief of thoracic surgery at Mount Sinai in 2010, not far from where he grew up many years before. Peers rave about his surgical expertise. Patients talk about his regular-guy, bedside manner and the hope he brings, giving them the confidence to fight this disease.
Abraham “Avi” Lebenthal, M.D.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston
Lebanthal, who once served as a battalion physician in the Israeli Army, has taken a special interest in military veterans with mesothelioma. He splits his time between Brigham and Women’s and the VA Boston Healthcare System. He was recruited to Boston to be part of the International Mesothelioma Program which was started by mentor David Sugarbaker.
The most important thing mesothelioma patients can do to improve their prognosis is find a doctor who understands all the intricacies of this rare but complex cancer.