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Mesothelioma

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Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that begins in the mesothelium – a thin, protective lining that covers the inside of your chest and abdomen and also lines the outer surface of many of your organs, such as your heart. It secretes a fluid that allows your organs to move against each other, such as the expansion and contraction of your lungs. The mesothelium that lines the chest, called the pleura, is the most common site for mesothelioma.

Unlike many other cancers, mesothelioma usually doesn’t grow as a single tumor. Initially, it grows within the lining and affects how well the lining works. It can cause symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain. Over time, the cancer can grow into nearby organs or spread to other parts of your body.

Mesotheliomas are grouped based on how the cancer cells look under a microscope:

  • Epithelioid mesothelioma
  • Sarcomatoid mesothelioma
  • Mixed (biphasic) mesothelioma

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

One of only 71 NCI-designated cancer centers in the U.S. Sylvester is one of only two cancer centers in Florida recognized by the National Cancer Institute. We’re known for our outstanding work conducting research, treating patients, and offering innovative prevention strategies to medically underserved communities.

Robotic video-assisted surgery program ranked among top 10 in the Southeast. Our surgeons use robotic video-assisted technology to improve patient outcomes. This advanced surgical approach results in less blood loss in surgery, shorter hospital stays, and higher survival rates on average for appropriate patients.

Advanced radiation oncology tools. Sylvester offers leading-edge tools that target tumors with pinpoint accuracy, including ViewRay® MRI-guided radiation therapy – we’re one of only five medical centers in the U.S. to offer it – and RapidArc® intensity-modulated external radiation therapy (IMRT). These image-guided radiation tools provide more effective treatments, shorter treatment times, and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

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Treatments

  • Surgery

    Curative-intent surgery may be used for epithelioid and biphasic mesothelioma that is limited to a single pleural cavity (left or right). Your surgeon will remove as much of the cancer as possible, followed by other treatments. There are two types of curative-intent surgery:

    Extrapleural pneumonectomy: removal of pleura, lung, diaphragm and pericardium en bloc.

    Lung sparing total pleurectomy: removal of pleura, diaphgram and pericardium en bloc. This operation spares the lung which is usually not involved by tumor.

    Either surgery includes the addition of heated intraoperative chemotherapy to decrease the probability of the tumor coming back. When the diaphragm and/or the pericardium must be removed if invaded with tumor, a biological mesh is used to replace them and prevent hernias.

    For more advanced mesotheliomas, your surgeon may use a less extensive procedure to help relieve symptoms and discomfort caused by the cancer, such as breathing problems.

  • Radiation Therapy

    Radiation therapy may be used after extrapleural pneumonectomy or as a targeted therapy in patients who are not surgical candidates or when recurrence occurs. It may also be used to help relieve symptoms of advanced cancer.

  • Chemotherapy

    Depending on the type and stage of your cancer, your doctor may use chemotherapy before surgery to lower the risk of recurrence and improve the results of surgery. Usually, chemotherapy is better tolerated before a major surgery than after. Chemotherapy is also used during or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. It’s often the main treatment (sometimes with radiation therapy) for people who have advanced mesothelioma or who aren’t candidates for surgery.

    Locations: If you need intravenous (infusion) chemotherapy, you can have it at the Comprehensive Treatment Unit (CTU) at Sylvester’s main location in Miami. This 12,000-square-foot facility has 33 recliners and 11 private rooms. If you prefer, you may have your infusion treatments at the Kendall, Plantation, Hollywood, Coral Springs, Coral Gables, and Deerfield Beach locations.

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.