Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that forms in the thin layer of tissue that covers internal organs — most commonly, the lungs and stomach. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous silicate material that is found on various construction sites, in certain automotive parts and in some older homes. Individuals in industries where exposure to asbestos is common — such as mechanics, firefighters and construction workers — are more at risk for this type of cancer, as are those who could be exposed to it secondhand.
Types of mesothelioma
There are four types of mesothelioma:
- Pleural mesothelioma – Develops in the lining of the lungs and accounts for more than 75 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses
- Peritoneal mesothelioma – Develops in the lining of the stomach cavity and accounts for 15 to 20 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses
- Pericardial mesothelioma – Develops in the lining of the heart and accounts for 1 to 2 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses
- Testicular mesothelioma – Develops in the membrane that lines the testes and accounts for less than 1 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses (about 250 cases total have ever been recorded)
Mesothelioma treatment options
There is no cure for mesothelioma at the moment, but treatment options are available, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Surgery is often used as an aggressive treatment for early-stage mesothelioma, but it may be less effective for those in a later stage of the disease.
Additionally, new treatments are constantly being discovered and mesothelioma patients have a far more diverse range of options than ever before. Some of the top emerging therapies that some patients can benefit from include:
- Gene therapy
- Photodynamic therapy
- Extra-pleural pneumonectomies (EPP)
Mesothelioma treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center
The Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center at Moffitt Cancer Center provides hope to patients from Fort Myers, Florida, and throughout the country. Located in Tampa, our cancer center spearheads a robust clinical trials program that gives mesothelioma patients the opportunity to experience the latest advances in treatment before they are made available elsewhere. Moffitt’s clinical breakthroughs, combined with the expertise and compassion of our multispecialty treatment team, help our mesothelioma patients experience a longer, better quality of life.
In addition to Moffitt’s specialized mesothelioma program, there are several factors that contribute to our status as a leader in thoracic cancer treatment. Here are just a few:
- Moffitt’s tumor board, composed of a multispecialty team of cancer specialists, collaboratively designs individualized treatment plans for each and every patient. This tumor board meets as necessary to refine treatment plans according to the patient’s progress and unique needs.
- In a single convenient location, mesothelioma patients at Moffitt can be seen by experienced imaging specialists, medical oncologists, thoracic surgeons, radiation oncologists, dietitians, social workers and other professionals.
- Moffitt offers highly advanced therapies for mesothelioma, including immunotherapies and mesothelioma vaccines.
- Moffitt stands at the forefront of mesothelioma research. Our commitment to finding a cure for this rare malignancy is evidenced by our recognition as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center – we are the only cancer center based in Florida to have received this recognition.
Frequently asked questions about mesothelioma treatment at Moffitt
To help reduce stress for our patients and their families who are traveling to Moffitt from Fort Myers, FL, and other cities, we have teamed with several nearby hotels to offer discounted rates. These hotels meet or exceed our high standards regarding cleanliness and are committed to providing a comfortable, friendly place for our patients to rest and spend time with their families.
Our patients and their families can also choose furnished housing through ATB Furnished Housing and All Stage Corporate Housing Group. If you’re planning a stay for 30 days or longer, you may be more comfortable in a temporary house that has a “home away from home” feel. Please contact the housing company directly to learn more.
What amenities are provided by Moffitt’s partner hotels?
Our partner hotels offer a wide range of standard amenities, including in-room WiFi, shuttle service to and from Moffitt, grocery shopping service, on-site laundry, full kitchens and complimentary breakfast.
Does Moffitt offer supportive care services?
Moffitt offers a wide range of supportive care services to our patients and their families, and we even have our own team dedicated to this area of medical care. Our specialized providers focus on the physical and emotional distress often associated with cancer, offering therapies and counseling to help our patients through their cancer journey.
Some of the supportive care services offered by our Supportive Care Medicine program include:
- Integrative medicine therapies, such as acupuncture, yoga, massage therapy and meditation
- Medication management
- Counseling provided by licensed psychiatrists and psychologists to help our patients manage anxiety, depression, sleep problems and other stressors
- Palliative medicine techniques to provide pain and symptom management to improve our patients’ quality of life and comfort
- Emotional, spiritual and practical support from social workers and chaplains to help our patients adjust to living with a serious illness
- Osteopathic manipulative treatment that helps relieve pain and improve function
Is it possible to do follow-up visits virtually?
Absolutely! Moffitt offers Virtual Visits for new and established patients to connect with their medical team for follow-up visits. All you need is a smartphone, tablet or video-enabled computer, and you’re good to go. Our Virtual Visits are completely secure, and you will be given a unique identification number and password for your appointment.
If you live in the Fort Myers, FL, area and have received a mesothelioma diagnosis, we encourage you to consult with a Moffitt specialist within our Thoracic Oncology Program. Call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.