Because malignant pleural mesothelioma — the most common form of mesothelioma — is relatively rare, most physicians see very few patients with this disease and are not familiar with the optimal therapy. As such, patients who suffer from this disease are best served by seeking specialized care at a center with a large volume of mesothelioma patients. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, we have assembled a team of specialists — including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, and basic scientists — who are committed to providing the best possible treatments for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Our Surgical Approach
Determining whether a patient qualifies for surgery and which type of surgery should be used is often a complex process. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, our surgeons have been pioneers in establishing the surgical approaches used to treat mesothelioma [PubMed Abstract]. They have led numerous clinical studies and compiled a database of more than 1,000 patients who have been treated for malignant pleural mesothelioma at our center. The information acquired from this body of work helps guide our current treatment choices.
Our radiation oncologists have developed cutting-edge radiation techniques for treating mesothelioma [PubMed Abstract]. In particular, they have amassed a great deal of clinical experience with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which allows for targeted radiation to be administered directly to the pleura. Currently, clinical trials are ongoing at Memorial Sloan-Kettering to assess the safety and efficacy of this novel approach.
Chemotherapy & Immunotherapy
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Our medical oncologists not only care for a large number of patients with pleural mesothelioma but also conduct numerous clinical trials testing new drugs and novel approaches. They have led a national study assessing the role of chemotherapy before extrapleural pneumonectomy and radiation for patients with early-stage disease [PubMed Abstract]. In addition, they are exploring the use of immunotherapies (treatments that stimulate the body's immune system to attach and kill cancer cells) for mesothelioma and recently completed a study with a WT-1 vaccine developed here. (The Wilms tumor protein, encoded by the WT-1 gene, can be used as a target for a patient's immune system.)
Currently, they are leading an international phase III study of a new oral drug called vorinostat for patients who previously received treatment with chemotherapy.
Learn more about our clinical trials.
Focus on the Patient
Communication with patients and caregivers is a priority at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. We believe that treating the whole person, not just the disease, is the best approach for patients and family members. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, we offer a broad range of emotional support programs designed to help patients and family members cope with the range of issues related to life during and after cancer treatment. We have established an individual counseling program as well as online virtual groups that are specifically designed to address the needs of patients with mesothelioma.
Our team of experts, which includes thoracic surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, nurses, and social workers, provides experienced, up-to-date, and thoughtful care for patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.