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Mesothelioma Surgery: Surgery Types, Surgeons & Side Effects

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on April 15, 2021

Mesothelioma is cancer-related to asbestos exposure. It affects the lining of organs such as the lungs, heart, abdomen, and testes. Although there is no cure for this terminal illness, mesothelioma surgery can go a long way toward extending a patient’s lifespan and improving quality of life. If your doctor says you are a candidate for mesothelioma surgery, learn more about this treatment option so that you know what to expect.

What Kind of Surgery Is Done for Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma refers to malignant tumors that have formed over the course of many years due to particles of asbestos fibers getting lodged in the tissues. The goal of mesothelioma surgery is either to remove these tumors and as much of the surrounding tissues as possible (curative surgery) or to relieve a patient’s symptoms (palliative surgery). There is also a diagnostic mesothelioma surgery, where a doctor removes a sample from the tumor for testing.

The four main types of mesothelioma surgery are:

  • Pleural surgery. Surgery to treat the most common type of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs. The most commonly used procedures are extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleurectomy/decortication.
  • Peritoneal surgery. Surgery to remove a tumor or help ease symptoms associated with tumors in the wall of the abdomen and digestive organs.
  • Pericardial surgery. An operation on the pericardium, or the sac that surrounds the heart. There are surgeries to remove the sac and to create a pericardial window, where a doctor can administer chemotherapy.
  • Testicular surgery. Surgery for testicular mesothelioma, which impacts the lining that covers the testicles (the tunica vaginalis).

The patients that benefit the most from mesothelioma surgery are those diagnosed in the early stages of this disease. In stages one or two, surgery can offer a patient the best odds of living a longer life. The type of surgery that is appropriate for you depends on your exact diagnosis, the stage of your mesothelioma, your health and medical history, and your doctor’s recommendations.

Mesothelioma Surgeons in New York

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are considering surgery as a course of treatment, your doctor will write you a referral to a surgeon in New York who specializes in these procedures. Three top options in New York are:

The Mount Sinai Hospital
1 Gustave L. Levey Place
New York, NY 10029

NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn
150 55th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(718) 630-7000

NYU Medical Center, Dr. Harvey Pass
530 First Avenue, Suite 9V
New York, NY 10016
(212) 263-5969

Your doctor will help you research options and choose the best surgeon for you and your particular needs. Then, you will have the chance to talk to the mesothelioma surgeon during a private consultation before making your decision.

How Long Does Mesothelioma Surgery Take?

The answer to this question depends on the type of operation, as well as whether the surgeon encounters any complications during the procedure. Invasive mesothelioma surgeries generally take longer than noninvasive surgeries. An invasive procedure can take several hours from beginning to end, as the goal is for the surgeon to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Invasive surgeries also require longer recovery times, starting at an average of two weeks and extending all the way to a year for some patients.

Can Mesothelioma Be Removed?

Yes, it may be possible for mesothelioma cancer cells to be removed with surgery. This is the goal of curative mesothelioma surgery – to try to completely remove the cancerous tumor and all surrounding cancer cells. However, in most cases, it is not possible to remove 100 percent of the cancer cells. Most physicians agree that surgery is not a cure for mesothelioma, but it can lengthen the patient’s life and reduce pain.

Although curative surgery may work to reduce symptoms, slow down the spread of mesothelioma and extend the patient’s life, the remaining cancer cells left behind will continue to grow and divide, eventually leading to cancer recurrence. Furthermore, not every patient who is diagnosed with mesothelioma is a candidate for curative surgery. The only option may be palliative mesothelioma surgery for tumors that have already spread too far.

What Is the Best Treatment for Mesothelioma?

A multimodal treatment approach, or pairing mesothelioma surgery with other treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, is the most effective way to treat mesothelioma. Although there is currently no known cure for mesothelioma, a combination of surgery and therapies can minimize the number of cancer cells in the body to optimize the patient’s prognosis.

Many physicians also recommend mesothelioma patients to participate in clinical trials for new and evolving treatment methods. Clinical trials can provide promising new and alternative treatment options from the world’s top physicians, innovative industry leaders and cutting-edge technologies. If you have exhausted traditional treatment options for mesothelioma, ask your doctor about clinical trials that are currently open to new candidates.

What Are the Risks and Side Effects of Mesothelioma Surgery?

As is the case with any type of surgery, surgery for mesothelioma comes with potential risks, complications and side effects. You must consider these possibilities and decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. Although each case is unique, risks that are often associated with mesothelioma surgery include:

  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Bleeding or uncontrollable hemorrhaging
  • Blood clots (pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis)
  • Cardiovascular problems or cardiac arrest
  • Chronic pain
  • Infections
  • Respiratory issues
  • Organ damage
  • Nerve damage

You have the right to give your informed consent to mesothelioma surgery. This means the right to fully understand all of the potential risks and benefits connected to a certain procedure before giving your consent. Your doctor should discuss your mesothelioma surgery in detail with you before proceeding. You and your physician can also review alternative treatment options that may be safer.

Who Pays for Mesothelioma Surgery?

If you were exposed to asbestos by your employer, a product manufacturer, a company or another party, you may be eligible for financial compensation for your medical expenses, including mesothelioma surgery. Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit can allow you to hold one or more parties accountable for your terminal illness.

Proving someone else’s liability for your mesothelioma case could pay for your surgeries, chemotherapy, treatments and other expenses related to your illness. Discuss your options for financial reimbursement with an experienced mesothelioma attorney in New York today. Contact The Williams Law Firm, P.C. at (855) 955-1419 to request a free consultation.



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