The University of Arizona’s Cancer Center hopes to become the premier mesothelioma treatment center in the Southwest. A UA thoracic surgeon performed the first successful extraplurual pneumonectomy or radical pleurectomy to treat malignant mesothelioma.
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that attacks the lining of the body’s organs including the lungs, heart and abdomen. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Currently there is no known cure for mesothelioma and the life expectancy for mesothelioma is generally six to twelve months from diagnosis. Chemotherapy is said to extend life by a few more months.
Jonathon C. Daniel, MD, Thoracic Surgeon and Assistant Professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery in the University of Arizona Department of Surgery offers extrapleural pneumonectomy and radical pleurectomy surgery. Dr. Daniel has performed at least five of the complex surgical procedure.
The procedure involves the removal of the tumor and affected lung and covering of the heart and the diaphragm. Once the structure is removed, they are reconstructed with a synthetic material Gore-Tex that has been designed to replace the tissue and supporting functions. The complex surgery is followed by radiation to the chest cavity to prevent the cancer from returning.
“A cure with mesothelioma is really hard to achieve,” Dr. Daniel said. “We are trying to extend life.” Dr. Daniel’s patient, a retired Marine, is currently free of the disease and is looking forward to enjoying his life spending time with his wife of 35 years and “hiking, camping, (and) just enjoying each other’s company.”