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Mesothelioma

Our Approach

Because MD Anderson's Thoracic Center cares for more patients with mesothelioma than almost any other center in the United States, you can be sure you are being cared for by renowned physicians with the highest levels of experience and skill.

A team of more than 30 medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pulmonologists and pathologists – all experts in their fields and mesothelioma – work together closely to customize the best treatment for you. A specially trained support team is part of each group.

Groundbreaking Research

MD Anderson's researchers are pioneering remarkable advances to give you the best chance for fighting mesothelioma. Areas of study include:

  • More-precise ways to diagnose mesothelioma
  • Targeted radiation therapy that focuses on cancer cells, while causing the least damage to healthy cells
  • Novel targeted agents that help your body fight the disease

We constantly test new boundaries with research. Because of this, we can offer many clinical trials (research studies) of new treatments that are not available at other centers. In fact, the dedicated mesothelioma research program at MD Anderson is one of the few in the world.

And at MD Anderson you're surrounded by the strength of one of the nation's foremost comprehensive cancer centers. We have all the support and wellness services needed to treat the whole person – not just the disease.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to be seen by expert doctors. We can help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • Leading-edge mesothelioma treatments, including targeted therapies
  • Latest, least-invasive mesothelioma surgery techniques
  • Advanced radiotherapy methods, including intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)
  • One of nation’s largest mesothelioma programs
  • Clinical trials of new therapies, many not available elsewhere

Mesothelioma Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

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Mesothelioma Facts

According to the American Cancer Society, between 2,000 and 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed each year with mesothelioma, a rare and dangerous cancer.

Mesothelioma starts in the mesothelium, which includes the:

  • Pleura, the thin layer of tissue that lines the lungs
  • Pericardium, the sac around the heart
  • Peritoneum, the membrane that lines the abdomen

Mesothelioma usually starts in the pleura. This type of mesothelioma also is called malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

Asbestos Exposure is a Factor

Mesothelioma almost always is caused by past exposure to fibers of asbestos. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that in the past was used in the construction, automotive, military, marine and manufacturing industries.

When tiny particles of asbestos are made or disturbed, they can float in the air. People can breathe in the asbestos or swallow it. This may lead to serious health conditions such as cancers of the lung, larynx and kidney. It also can cause asbestosis, a non-cancerous, chronic lung disease.

In some people, asbestos fibers cause genetic changes in the pleura, the thin layer of tissue that lines the lungs. These changes may lead to mesothelioma. It can occur 20 to 50 years after a person has come in contact with asbestos.

Mesothelioma Types

There are three types of mesothelioma:

  • Epithelioid:  60% to 70% of cases, usually has the best outcome
  • Sarcomatoid: 10% to 15% of cases, more aggressive
  • Biphasic or mixed: 10% to 15% of cases, extremely aggressive

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center