Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare, asbestos-related malignant or cancerous tumor that forms on the thin protective tissues that cover the lungs, thoracic cavity, and the abdomen. The majority of patients have the thoracic or pleural form of the disease, known as malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Thoracic surgeons at UT Southwestern Medical Center provide state-of-the-art surgical techniques with a major focus on early diagnosis, better cancer staging, and multidisciplinary care to enhance the treatment of mesothelioma. Our NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the gold standard for cancer centers, is a center for excellence in patient care, research, and education, and is the only center with this designation in North Texas.

We provide comprehensive care for mesothelioma patients, from diagnosis to creating an individualized treatment plan to follow up that helps ensure full recovery. In addition to expert thoracic surgeons, your care team will involve UT Southwestern pulmonologists and medical and radiation oncologists. Depending on your type of mesothelioma and staging, a treatment plan will be formulated that may include chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Our expert team also offers cutting-edge radiation techniques and novel chemotherapy options.

We also offer advanced imaging capabilities, such as 3-D reconstruction of the cancer to better define areas where the tumor is invading adjacent tissues.

Symptoms

Many people diagnosed with mesothelioma have had symptoms of the disease for some time but thought it was something else, such as the flu or pneumonia. The most common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Pleural effusion, or accumulation of abnormal amounts of fluid around the lung
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss

Risk Factors

The single most important risk factor is being exposed to asbestos (a fibrous mineral that was widely used as a building material from the 1950s to the 1990s). Occupations related to use of asbestos include:

  • Construction
  • Heating and air conditioning
  • Insulation
  • Mining
  • Plumbing
  • Shipyard work

Diagnosis

When you come to see the experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center, we will discuss your medical history to determine any risk factors you may have for the disease. We will also perform additional tests, including:

Staging

By combining information gathered from imaging modalities and biopsies, we’re able to give you information about the stage of your pleural mesothelioma.

Stage I, II – cancer is limited to the pleura in one of your lungs

Stage III – cancer has spread to the lymph nodes around your windpipe or the tumor has spread directly to the mediastinum, which is the area between the lungs in the middle of your chest

Stage IV – cancer has spread to the chest wall or outside the chest

Treatments

UT Southwestern’s thoracic surgeons treat mesothelioma with state-of-the-art procedures that include:

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy – removal of the entire lung and parts of the diaphragm and pleura or chest lining
  • Parietal pleurectomy – removal of the lining of the chest cavity
  • Pleurectomy and decortication – aimed at preserving the lung, removal of all the cancerous tissue around the lung, diaphragm, and lining of the chest cavity
  • Pleurodesis – a treatment for pleural effusion (excess fluid) that results from mesothelioma

Related Conditions

UT Southwestern’s Thoracic Surgery team treats thoracic (chest) conditions that can be associated with mesothelioma. These include:

Clinical Trials

UT Southwestern conducts clinical trials aimed at improving the treatment of mesothelioma. Talk with your doctor to see if a clinical trial may be right for you.

Meet Our Team

UT Southwestern thoracic surgeons who treat mesothelioma include:

Thoracic Surgeons

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a mesothelioma specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas or to learn more about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.

Learn more about our Thoracic Surgery team.