Mesothelioma Doctors

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Ultimately, a specialist is a mesothelioma patient’s greatest advocate. By choosing any of the top mesothelioma specialists, patients can rest assured they are in good hands.

There are dozens of mesothelioma doctors practicing in cancer treatment centers across the country. Specialized mesothelioma surgeons and oncologists lead patient-centered healthcare teams. These experts are the best in their profession, combining the latest in mesothelioma research with the most effective treatment approaches possible.

Mesothelioma Doctors Overview

Finding and working with a top mesothelioma specialist can save a patient’s life. It’s vital for mesothelioma patients, or those who suspect they have mesothelioma, to get in touch with a specialist immediately. For help locating a top mesothelioma specialist, please call our patient advocates at (800) 584-4151 and receive help now.

Here’s what every mesothelioma patient needs to know about working with a mesothelioma doctor:

  • Patients are strongly encouraged to see a specialist—not a general oncologist
  • Only a specialist can accurately diagnose and treat mesothelioma
  • Mesothelioma specialists have access to new, life-saving therapies that general physicians do not
  • Mesothelioma doctors are the biggest advocates for patient care and fighting to find a cure
  • Mesothelioma doctors specialize in specific mesothelioma diagnoses (pleural vs. peritoneal mesotheliomas)

What Is a Mesothelioma Specialist?

A mesothelioma specialist is a physician trained, educated and experienced in treating mesotheliomas specifically. Doctors who specialize in mesothelioma are also the pioneers of the field. They’ve dedicated their professional lives to understanding, diagnosing and treating mesothelioma.

As a result of their commitment to researching this rare type of cancer, these specialized physicians are the direct developers of treatments and approaches that are considered the most effective methods.

Many of these specialists, like Dr. David Sugarbaker or Dr. Robert Cameron literally wrote the book on how to understand, diagnose and treat mesothelioma. These specialists are the inventors and developers of life-saving treatment procedures.

No other type of doctor can correctly diagnose and treat mesothelioma. Not only is it an extremely rare cancer, but mesothelioma is also one of the most complex cancers of our time. It’s exceptionally difficult to diagnose, making it greatly misunderstood by general oncologists.

Mesothelioma is also relatively new. It’s only within the past 20 years that enough research has been funded about mesothelioma for there to be any major scientific advancements with it. The men and women who are responsible for these advancements are the specialists themselves.

No one is better equipped to save a mesothelioma patient’s life than a specialist.

Mesothelioma Specialist vs. General Oncologist

It’s vital for mesothelioma patients and their families to understand the critical differences between a general oncologist and a mesothelioma specialist. General oncologists, though experts in their own right, have not dedicated their careers and lifetimes to one type of rare cancer. Instead, general oncologists deal more frequently with common cancer types such as breast and lung.

A general oncologist prevents, diagnoses and treats cancer. While that is a vitally important role in the medical community, it’s also a broad one.

There are over 100 types of cancer, making it virtually impossible for a single general oncologist to have encountered every form of cancer within their career.

As there are only 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma each year in the United States, most general oncologists will see a maximum of 1-2 mesothelioma cases in their careers. Patients should view general oncologists as cancer doctors who can help refer them to the mesothelioma specialist they need.

Why Do I Need to See a Mesothelioma Specialist?

Specialists deal day in and day out with mesothelioma. Just as you would take a European import car to a European import car mechanic, you must take yourself to get diagnosed and treated by a mesothelioma specialist.

Mesothelioma Specialists Update

Mesothelioma specialists know how to accurately diagnose mesothelioma. Unlike other common types of cancer, mesothelioma is a highly complex disease. Mesothelioma symptoms and cells can mimic those of other complex lung cancers, making it easy for those who haven’t dealt with it before to misdiagnose mesothelioma.

Seeing a mesothelioma specialist has literally been the difference between life and death for many people. Patients are strongly encouraged to seek out mesothelioma doctors and get accurately diagnosed and treated by them.

How Can Mesothelioma Specialists Help?

Only a specialist can effectively administer the most effective and life-saving mesothelioma treatments. Mesothelioma patients deserve the best treatment possible, not treatments that waste time and put them at greater health risk.

Here are specific ways mesothelioma specialists help patients:

  • Achieve an accurate diagnosis the first time
  • Thoroughly and clearly explain the condition to the patient with realistic expectations
  • Develop a personalized treatment plan based on unique patient needs
  • Create a life-saving follow-up care plan for mesothelioma patients to prevent and identify recurrence
  • Correct a misdiagnosis and start a misdiagnosed patient on the right treatment plan

“My strong advice to patients is to always ask for a second opinion.” — Dr. Michele Carbone

A mesothelioma misdiagnosis can waste the precious time a mesothelioma patient has. Misdiagnoses happen when general oncologists mistake mesothelioma for another form of lung or abdominal cancer they’re more familiar with. Following this misinformation, the general oncologist places the patient on a treatment plan that will ultimately fail.

Where Can I Find Mesothelioma Specialists?

It’s important for mesothelioma patients to know that they have plenty of options when it comes to locating and contacting mesothelioma specialists. Cancer center staff and advocates across the nation are awaiting calls from patients and move quickly to get them the information they need.

Mesothelioma patients can get connected with specialists in a few ways, including:

  • Getting a physician’s referral
  • Contacting cancer centers directly
  • Using online directories for mesothelioma doctors
  • Using our free Doctor Match program

Doctor Match Program:

Mesothelioma Help Now’s free Doctor Match Program can connect you with the top mesothelioma specialists nearest you. Get matched with the right doctor for your mesothelioma location, stage and cell type.

Firstly, you can ask for a referral to a mesothelioma specialist from your physician. If you’re currently working with your general practitioner, then you can ask about mesothelioma specialists near you. Your doctor can contact the cancer treatment center and help you set up an initial consultation with the specialist.

Another way mesothelioma patients can find a specialist is by contacting cancer treatment centers directly.

There are mesothelioma centers across the nation urging patients to get in touch with them to work with their resident specialist. For more information on mesothelioma cancer centers, please use Mesothelioma Help Now’s cancer center directory.

Finally, mesothelioma patients and their families can use Mesothelioma Help Now’s Doctor Match to find and locate mesothelioma specialists. We have information and resources on each of the major mesothelioma specialists in the country. Use our mesothelioma specialists list to learn about each specialist and their approach to care.

How Do I Decide Which Specialist to Work With?

Choosing a specialist is a deeply personal decision for mesothelioma patients and their families.

Each patient has different needs, preferences and communication styles. Finding the right mesothelioma specialist that meets individual patient needs is critical to having a positive, successful treatment and care experience.

Mesothelioma doctors are individuals too. They have their own communication styles and care philosophies. Additionally, they have their own sub-specializations such as the types of patients they work with and the forms of mesothelioma that they treat. For example, Dr. Avi Lebenthal specializes in treating veterans with advanced pleural mesothelioma, while Dr. Claire Verschraegen is a peritoneal mesothelioma specialist using new and emerging therapies.

“One of the most important things we can do… provide hope for patients and their families.” — Dr. David Sugarbaker, Pleural Mesothelioma Specialist

Mesothelioma patients searching for the right specialist for them should consider the following criteria when making their decision:

  • What form of mesothelioma does the doctor specialize in? (pleural, peritoneal or pericardial)
  • What stage of mesothelioma does the doctor have experience treating?
  • Does the doctor specialize in treating patients like me? (Age, sex, demographics)
  • What are the doctor’s core beliefs around treatment approaches?
  • Will the doctor tailor a specialized treatment plan for me?
  • How does the doctor like to communicate?
  • What type of team does the doctor work with?
  • Does the doctor have a plan for follow-up care?
  • How will my family be included and looked after during treatment?
  • What type of insurance providers does the doctor’s clinic work with?
  • How far away is the doctor’s clinic?
  • Does the doctor’s clinic provide support for needs like housing, travel, and counseling?
  • How long will it take to begin treatment?

Asking these questions helps mesothelioma patients and their families narrow down their choice in mesothelioma specialists. These questions can also help patients consider other important factors in their decision-making process.

Patients who feel a complete sense of trust in their healthcare team tend to have a far better overall diagnosis and treatment experience.

As with most major decisions in life, choosing a mesothelioma specialist often comes down to the individual patient’s gut instinct. Patients who get a positive first impression of their specialist will ultimately feel more comfortable putting their lives in that particular physician’s hands.

Who Are the Top Mesothelioma Specialists?

There are dozens of mesothelioma specialists across the country and much more internationally. However, there are a handful of doctors who are considered the absolute top of their profession. Top mesothelioma specialists achieved this rank because of their dedication, commitment, and leadership in their specializations.

The top mesothelioma doctors are those who have revolutionized treatment and research. They’re also so renowned for their expertise that they’re now teaching the new generation of mesothelioma specialists and thoracic oncologists.

While there are many doctors considered part of this group of top specialists, the following are the premier mesothelioma doctors leading the way in treatment and finding a cure for this horrible disease:

  • Dr. David Sugarbaker: The world’s first top pleural mesothelioma specialist, Dr. David Sugarbaker is the head of thoracic surgery at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. He is known for his development of the curative pleural mesothelioma surgical procedure called the extrapleural pneumonectomy. Dr. David Sugarbaker has treated thousands of patients and has saved countless lives.
  • Dr. Robert Cameron: Another of the top pleural mesothelioma specialists, Dr. Cameron is the head of the mesothelioma programs at the Los Angeles VA Hospital and UCLA Hospital. Dr. Cameron is known for revolutionizing the pleural mesothelioma treatment landscape by developing the lung-saving surgical procedure called pleurectomy with decortication.
  • Dr. Paul Sugarbaker: As a top specialist, Dr. Paul Sugarbaker (brother to Dr. David Sugarbaker) is world-renowned for his contribution to curative treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma. He developed the Cytoreduction with HIPEC procedure, also known as the “Sugarbaker Technique”. Dr. Paul Sugarbaker is the head of the Center for Surgical Oncology at the Washington Cancer Institute.

Several more rising specialists are being recognized as leaders in mesothelioma research and treatment. Whether it’s because of their contributions to innovative treatment developments, their modern approach to patient advocacy or their commitment to teaching a new generation of specialists, these mesothelioma doctors are all excellent choices for patients.

Mesothelioma Survivors and Their Doctors

A mesothelioma diagnosis is a life-altering event for patients and their families. Because it is such a devastating situation, it’s no wonder why many patients report feeling as though their doctor and their healthcare team became part of their family during treatment and in the months following.

The relationship that mesothelioma patients develop with their healthcare team is every bit as important as the care process itself.

Trust, support, and faith are critical emotional ingredients required in any battle against cancer, especially one as critical as mesothelioma.

The top mesothelioma specialists understand this. Their years of working closely with patients during their most painful times have allowed them to develop the interpersonal communication and support abilities needed to be a top doctor.

Today, many long-term survivors report feeling a strong emotional bond with their doctors and healthcare teams. These survivors credit their physicians with having saved their lives, which is why many mesothelioma patients return to their doctors regularly for follow-up or ongoing support.

Mesothelioma Help for Patients and Families

In addition to the patient’s trust in their mesothelioma specialists, the bond between physician and the patient’s family is also critical.

Many family members suffer during their loved one’s diagnosis because of their obligation to stay strong. But this too can take its emotional toll. Healthcare teams honor this and resolve to include family members and loved ones in all communications and decisions made about the patient’s care.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact one of the top mesothelioma doctors today. Or, get in touch immediately with one of our Patient Advocates to learn more about the legal, financial and medical support options for your fight against mesothelioma.

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Sources
  1. American Cancer Society, “What are the Key Statistics About Malignant Mesothelioma?” Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/malignant-mesothelioma/about/key-statistics.html. Accessed on November 10, 2017.
  2. American Cancer Society, “What’s New in Malignant Mesothelioma Research and Treatment?” Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/malignant-mesothelioma/about/new-research.html. Accessed on November 10, 2017.
  3. Baylor College of Medicine, “David J Sugarbaker, M.D.” Retrieved from: https://www.bcm.edu/people/view/david-sugarbaker-m-d/8a46e330-b193-11e3-a42d-005056b104be. Accessed on November 10, 2017.
  4. Sugarbaker Oncology Associates. Retrieved from: http://www.sugarbakeroncology.com/. Accessed on November 10, 2017.
  5. UCLA Health, “Robert B. Cameron, MD” Retrieved from: https://www.uclahealth.org/robert-cameron. Accessed on November 10, 2017.

Last modified: May 24, 2018