Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma care with the skilled specialists and advanced techniques you need close to home.

Find a Mesothelioma Specialist
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer affecting the thin layer of tissue lining the lungs and chest. At Nuvance Health™ Cancer Institute, you are in caring and capable hands. The team includes nationally recognized doctors who use leading techniques.
What is mesothelioma? Who is at risk?

Mesothelioma affects the mesothelium. This tissue protects organs and creates fluid, enabling gentle movement when necessary, such as when you breathe. Mesothelioma can affect many areas of the body, but typically occurs in the lungs (pleural mesothelioma).

The most significant risk factor for mesothelioma is inhaling asbestos, a toxic type of heat-resistant material. Situations that increase this risk include jobs in which you produce or regularly handle materials containing asbestos. These include fireproof coatings, concrete, roof shingles, paint and more.

Pleural mesothelioma care at Nuvance Health: Why choose us?

The team includes skilled thoracic surgeons who lead professional organizations and participate in research that's advancing the field. When you choose Nuvance Health for your care, you receive focused care right from the start. Highlights of our program include:

  • Diagnosis and assessment:
    Pleural mesothelioma can be challenging to diagnose. Our experience from seeing a high volume of patients means you receive a thorough evaluation, including sophisticated testing, when necessary. We diagnose the type and severity of mesothelioma with a high degree of accuracy.
  • Coordination:
    You receive care that takes your wellbeing into account, including coordinated services from other cancer specialists. The team includes medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, among others. We work together to tailor services to your unique situation.
  • Appropriate therapies:
    Eligible patients have access to chemotherapy, sophisticated surgeries and newly approved medical options. We consider the mesothelioma type and severity, and your age and health history, to determine the right therapies for you. Find out more about cancer treatments and services.
  • Support:
    You receive one-on-one support throughout your care journey. A cancer nurse navigator helps schedule appointments, answers questions and connects you with helpful resources.

Mesothelioma symptoms

The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fluid build-up in the chest (pleural effusion)
  • Shortness of breath

Types of mesothelioma

Mesothelioma can be due to different types of abnormal cells, including:

  • Epithelioid: This is the most common form and typically responds well to treatment.
  • Dermoplastic: The rarest form of mesothelioma, which often involves the chest wall.
  • Sarcomatoid: A rare type that is less likely to respond to treatment.
  • Mixed: A combination of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells.

Diagnosing pleural mesothelioma

We perform a physical exam and listen carefully as you describe your symptoms.

This information helps us determine the additional tests you need, which may include:

  • Fluid sample: We insert a needle into the mesothelium area where fluid is collecting and take a sample. Pathologists evaluate the sample in a lab.
  • Video-assisted thorascopic surgery (VATS): We insert a tiny camera and surgical instruments through a small incision. The camera helps specialists guide the instruments to the suspicious tissue's location and take a sample (biopsy). Pathologists evaluate it in the lab.
  • Endobronchial ultrasound: After numbing your throat, we insert a thin tube (bronchoscope) to access the cancer. An ultrasound imaging device at the tip uses soundwaves to capture detailed images. You may need this test if your doctor is concerned the cancer has spread to nearby tissue (lymph nodes).

Treatments for mesothelioma

We follow national mesothelioma care guidelines based in research, so you receive the treatments that are appropriate for your needs.

Surgery

Surgery for mesothelioma removes cancerous tissue and a small area of healthy tissue. This may include part of the mesothelium and nearby tissue from a section of lung. We use minimally invasive options, such as VATS, whenever possible. In eligible patients, VATS may help you avoid a more complicated procedure.

Other mesothelioma treatments and services

Other therapies and services you may receive include:

  • Medications: For early-stage pleural mesothelioma, treatment often includes chemotherapy. If mesothelioma comes back after treatment, immunotherapy (drugs that work with your immune system to destroy cancer cells) may be an option if you are eligible. We offer the latest options. Explore chemotherapy and other medical oncology.
  • The tumor, and chemotherapy or immunotherapy can prevent it from growing. You may receive these treatments before or after surgery, depending on your circumstances. Find out more about radiation therapy.
  • Palliative procedures: If you can’t have surgery, these procedures help you stay comfortable. We may make the cancer smaller to relieve pain. Other procedures remove excess fluid from the lungs, making it easier to breathe.
  • Supportive care: If you have difficulty eating, dietitians recommend methods for getting the nutrients you need and maintaining a healthy weight. Find out more about supportive care.