Surgery for Mesothelioma

The goal of surgery for mesothelioma at Memorial Sloan Kettering is to remove all of your cancer. Our top priority is to keep you safe and make sure that you have a good quality of life after the procedure.

The surgical approach we recommend for you depends on the type of mesothelioma you’ve been diagnosed with.

Surgery for Pleural Mesothelioma

At MSK we offer two primary surgical options for pleural mesothelioma:

  • Pleurectomy/decortication is often done for people with pleural mesothelioma. In this procedure, your surgeon removes the pleura, which is a lining that covers many internal organs. We also remove as much diseased tissue as possible.
  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy is a more involved surgery. In this procedure, your surgeon removes the lining of your lung and the affected lung itself. He or she will also remove the diaphragm on that side of your body and some of the lining around your heart.

Our surgeons pioneered these techniques and have trained surgeons around the world in using them for people with mesothelioma.

With mesothelioma, surgery alone isn’t enough. We may recommend that you also receive chemotherapy, radiation, or both.

Surgery for Peritoneal Mesothelioma

If you’re diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, we may recommend cytoreductive surgery. In this procedure, also known as debulking, surgeons remove the mesothelioma tumors as well as the parts of the tissue (membrane) that lines your abdomen and abdominal organs, such as the liver, gallbladder, and spleen.

If the tumors aren’t coming through the surface of this lining, we may be able to peel them off in a procedure called peritonectomy. Some organs may be too fragile for this, in which case we can remove part (or all) of the organ.

These operations can take a long time — up to 10 hours in some cases. Your treatment team can often use CT scans to help predict which organs your surgeon will have to remove and how long the surgery will likely take.