Cancer - Oncology

Mesothelioma

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare cancer that involves the lining of the lungs and chest wall. Every year, about 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma. The major risk factor is exposure to asbestos, which has historically been used for insulation. Construction workers, pipe fitters, shipyard workers, and others who have been exposed to asbestos for years are at greatest risks. It takes many years for mesothelioma to occur—it can develop 30 years after asbestos exposure. Some patients have symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath. Others don’t have any symptoms at all (called asymptomatic). As mesothelioma gets worse, it stops your lungs from being able to hold as much air (called a restrictive pattern).

Least Invasive, Personalized Treatment Plans 

Under the direction of Raja M. Flores, MD, Chair of the Department of Thoracic Surgery and an expert in mesothelioma, and Andrea Wolf, MD, Director of the Mesothelioma Program, and in collaboration with Andrew Kaufman, MD, Director of The Thoracic Surgery Airway Program, our specialists will develop an individualized treatment plan for you. The team of thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, radiologists, and pathologists reviews each case. We coordinate your care in one central location.

Most patients need several types of treatment for the best possible outcome. This may include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. If you need surgery, we make every effort to preserve the underlying lung. Treatment is tailored for each patient to give you the highest quality of life. We treat the whole patient, not the disease.

Mesothelioma Research at Mount Sinai 

Dr. Flores has conducted extensive research comparing different treatment approaches for mesothelioma. He has studied extrapleural pneumonectomy (removing the lung as well as the lining) and pleurectomy/decortication (removing only the lining and preserving the lung). In addition, his team participates in mesothelioma research, such as molecular research, and in treatment protocols and clinical trials. Mount Sinai is a member of several national consortiums that study tissue specimens to better understand the disease to improve and enhance treatment options for patients.