Selecting the right cancer treatment center for a mesothelioma patient is not an easy task, but it might be the most important decision a family can make for a loved one.
Do it carefully, and do it with urgency. The difference between cancer centers — when it comes to the treatment of malignant mesothelioma — can be startling.
There are hundreds of good cancer centers spread across the U.S., but only a small percentage of them really excel in the treatment of mesothelioma, the rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
Making the right choice could mean the difference between a prognosis of 6-12 months and one that leads to years as a cancer survivor by keeping the disease in check.
Find a mesothelioma specialty center and specialist who knows the latest, cutting-edge treatment advances. Don’t accept the typical gloom-and-doom approach that was so prevalent just a few years ago — even at well-known cancer centers.
Clinical trials at mesothelioma specialty centers are testing better drugs and a more targeted, personalized approach to treatment today. Although there still is no definitive cure for mesothelioma, survivors are living three, four or five years and beyond after a diagnosis. Some are hitting the 10-year mark.
Top Specialty Treatment Centers
What Makes a Mesothelioma Treatment Center Great
A great mesothelioma treatment center begins with a great specialist, but it requires a great team that understands the intricacies of the disease. It requires the latest technology, an aggressive approach and a desire to tackle a hard-to-treat cancer.
It demands vast experience, which is difficult to find because the disease is so rare. Only an estimated 3,000 Americans annually are diagnosed with mesothelioma, compared with 200,000 who are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. Most medical professionals rarely see mesothelioma and never treat it.
Cross Department Collaboration
Even the most experienced mesothelioma specialist needs second opinions, making collaboration within a treatment center imperative to get the best possible care.
For example, the mesothelioma team at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa has a weekly thoracic tumor board meeting, where each case is reviewed jointly by the surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist and nurse specialist. They sit together and provide their own specific expertise on a case.
It’s a multidisciplinary approach that has worked well with mesothelioma patients, providing multiple views of a challenging disease.
Mesothelioma is so complex, and its care so specialized, that a patient really needs the best care in the world," said thoracic surgeon Abraham Lebenthal, M.D., at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "We're in a unique position to offer that.
Your Selection Criteria
There are many things to consider when picking a treatment center, depending upon your particular circumstance.
LocationIs a specialty center nearby?
Travel AbilityAre you willing to travel for treatment?
Financial StatusCost could run high. Can you afford it?
InsuranceReview what your plan covers
SurgeryWhich centers will perform curative surgery?
VA HealthcareSpecialists trained to help veterans
Clinical TrialsEmerging treatments might be best chance for survival
ExperienceA specialist with experience is key