Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare tumor that involves the lining of the lungs and chest wall. Approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year. The major risk factor is exposure to asbestos, which has historically been used for its insulation properties. Those most at risk generally have had long-term exposure to it, such as construction workers, pipe fitters, and shipyard workers. It takes many years for mesothelioma to occur – it can develop 30 years after asbestos exposure. Symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath are subtle, and often people are asymptomatic. As it progresses, mesothelioma causes a restrictive pattern on the structures in the affected area of the chest.
Least Invasive, Personalized Treatment Plans
Under the direction of Raja M. Flores, Chairman Department of Thoracic Surgery, a team of specialists consisting of thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, radiologists, and pathologists reviews each case. The best outcomes are achieved with a multi-modality approach consisting of surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. Here at Mount Sinai, the treatment plan is personalized for each patient. One of the foremost experts in the field of mesothelioma, Dr. Flores has more than 15 years experience treating it, and is an advocate of lung-sparing techniques. If surgery is deemed appropriate, all efforts are made to preserve the underlying lung, if possible. Treatment is tailored in each case to optimize patients' quality of life and differs from patient to patient. Our goal is to treat the patient, not the disease. All aspects of care are easily coordinated between the different specialties in one central location.
Mesothelioma Research at Mount Sinai
Dr. Flores has conducted extensive research comparing extrapleural pneumonectomy (removing the lung in addition to the lining) and pleurectomy/decortication (removing only the lining and preserving the lung). In addition, his team actively participates in several mesothelioma research studies. These range from molecular research to participation in treatment protocols/clinical trials. Mount Sinai is also a member of several national consortiums using tissue specimens to better understand the disease in order to improve and enhance treatment options for patients.