Mesothelioma | Miami Cancer Institute | Baptist Health South Florida
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Thoracic surgical oncologist Mark Dylewski, M.D., employs a multimodality therapy program to treat patients with mesothelioma. 

This approach typically combines surgery with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Dr. Dylewski partners with Miami Cancer Institute’s world-renowned medical and radiation oncologists to attack mesothelioma in multiple ways.

Mesothelioma usually starts in the pleura – the thin layer of tissue that lines the lungs. In most cases, the disease is caused by past exposure to asbestos. The most common type of mesothelioma is epithelioid, which usually has the best outcome. Sarcomatoid and biphasic mesothelioma types tend to be more aggressive.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Symptoms of mesothelioma resemble other lung conditions; therefore, it often is not diagnosed until it has spread. Symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Collapse of lung
  • Chronic cough
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in sputum
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic hoarseness

Early and accurate diagnosis is important to successful mesothelioma treatment. If you have symptoms of mesothelioma, your doctor will conduct a physical exam and review your health history, including smoking and drinking habits and exposure to asbestos. Additionally, one or more of the following tests may be performed:

  • Needle biopsy or pleural aspiration to collect lung fluid.
  • Lung function test.
  • Imaging tests, such as chest X-ray, CT scan, PET scan and MRI that show detailed images of the lungs and other parts of the body.
  • Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgical biopsy (VATS), which is performed using a tiny tube with a camera on the end to obtain lung tissue for examination.

Our team of experts often use multimodal methods – a combination of several treatments – to achieve the best results for patients with mesothelioma. Our comprehensive treatment plans address the whole person, which means a team of specialists also focuses on your psychological, social and spiritual needs. (Link team of specialists to Patient Support Center)

Mesothelioma treatments may include:

  • Surgery, to remove large portions of affected tissue. The two surgery types are:
    • Extrapleural pneumonectomy is the removal of all organs affected by mesothelioma. This may include the lung, lymph glands and parts of the diaphragm and the pericardium. 
    • Pleurectomy or pleurectomy/decortication is the removal of the tumor from the lung, diaphragm and chest wall, while the organ structures remain intact.
  • Radiation therapy, using the most advanced techniques, such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). IMRT uses computer-controlled radiation beams that are precisely shaped to match the tumor and attack it from various angles.
  • Chemotherapy, using specific solutions to kill cancer cells in the body. (Link Chemotherapy to Chemotherapy in Treatments & Services)
  • Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), which delivers a highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy treatment directly to the affected area during surgery to remove the tumors. Unlike systemic chemotherapy delivery that circulates throughout the body, HIPEC delivers chemotherapy directly to cancer cells. 
  • Immunotherapy, which utilizes drugs that activate the immune system to target and kill mesothelioma cells.
  • Targeted therapy, using drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread.
  • Clinical trials that create, test and refine new treatments to improve the prognosis of patients with mesothelioma.