Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma specialists at Rush use immunotherapy, HIPEC chemotherapy and other advanced mesothelioma treatments to improve your prognosis and quality of life.

Mesothelioma specialists at Rush use immunotherapy, HIPEC chemotherapy and other advanced mesothelioma treatments to improve your prognosis and quality of life.

Mesothelioma specialists at Rush use immunotherapy, HIPEC chemotherapy and other advanced mesothelioma treatments to improve your prognosis and quality of life.

Mesothelioma is a cancerous (malignant) tumor of the tissue that lines your lungs, stomach, heart and other organs. 

Mesothelioma is almost always caused by long-term exposure to asbestos. The disease usually takes a long time to develop, so symptoms don't typically appear until decades after you were exposed.

Although it often starts in the lining of the lungs, where it's called pleural mesothelioma, malignant mesothelioma is not the same — and is not treated the same — as lung cancer.

When Should I Get Help for Mesothelioma?

Talk to your primary care doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms, especially if you know you've been exposed to asbestos at work or at home:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain (especially when taking a deep breath)
  • Pain, lumps or bloating in your abdomen
  • Losing weight without trying
  • A cough that won't go away
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Fatigue

Many of these symptoms are also symptoms of other conditions, including other lung diseases, so your doctor will run diagnostic tests to see whether you have mesothelioma or another condition.

Mesothelioma Treatment at Rush

Your mesothelioma treatment at Rush is a team effort with you at the center. Pulmonologists, medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation therapists, thoracic surgeons and other Rush cancer care specialists pool their expertise to provide you with the most current treatment and compassionate support.

Your care team will explain your options, talk with you about your goals and concerns, and design a treatment plan that fits your unique needs. Your plan might include one or more of the following components:

  • Surgery to remove cancerous tissue, if you've been diagnosed early and a surgeon determines that it can be removed completely
  • Chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, which can be used on their own or in combination with surgery, depending on the stage and location of your mesothelioma
  • Immunotherapy that stimulates your immune system to kill cancer cells, sometimes combined with chemotherapy
  • Oxygen therapy to help you breathe more easily
  • Pain management, potentially including medications and radiotherapy, to ensure that you stay comfortable

Rush surgical oncologists are among the few in the nation with expertise using the targeted chemotherapy approach called HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy) for mesothelioma tumors in the abdomen.

HIPEC combines surgery to remove the visible tumor with the delivery of a heated chemotherapy solution to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Before HIPEC, patients with these tumors could expect to survive less than two years; with HIPEC, expected survival is more than five years.

Rush Excellence in Mesothelioma Care

  • Extensive experience: The multidisciplinary chest tumor clinic team at the Rush University Cancer Center has decades of experience in treating pleural mesothelioma. Your care team meets regularly to review your case and implement a treatment plan that aligns with your plans and goals.
  • Precision medicine: Through Rush's partnership with the biotech company Tempus, your mesothelioma tumor can be tested for gene mutations known to respond to specific treatments. That enables your team to choose a treatment tailored to your genetic makeup.
  • Leading-edge treatment: New targeted therapies to treat cancerous cells and spare healthy cells are currently in clinical trials and show great promise in treating mesothelioma. Because Rush is an academic medical system, you'll have access to clinical trials and other groundbreaking treatments.
  • National recognition: Rush University Medical Center and Rush Copley Medical Center received the 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer — a prestigious award recognizing programs that excel in providing quality cancer care. And Rush University Medical Center is ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for cancer care.