Mesothelioma is a cancer found in membranes lining the lungs or chest cavity or the abdominal cavity.

Mesothelioma occurs mainly in men over the age of 50 and is frequently associated with prior environmental or occupational exposure to asbestos. It can be diagnosed only by biopsy.

Patients with mesothelioma usually have progressive shortness of breath due to the thickening of membranes and contraction of breathing space. Fluid may accumulate in the lungs, which also makes breathing difficult.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia has been designated a center of excellence in the management of mesothelioma by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Treatment often requires major surgery on the pleura (the lining membrane of the lung) and the lung and may involve post-surgical chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

We are currently studying several new treatments, including a novel multimodality, or combination approach, which includes vaccine therapy, in vitro chemosensitivity testing, and drug analysis, followed by surgical removal and radiotherapy. A multimodality approach to this disease offers patients the best chance to be cured.

Research Studies

The multidisciplinary, interdepartmental Center for Lung Failure and the Columbia University Mesothelioma Center are seeking patients for a new institutionally approved clinical protocol to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare tumor that attacks the pleura, the lining membrane of the lung. The Principal Investigators of this study, to be conducted at both the Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell campuses of NewYork-Presbyterian, are: Mark E. Ginsburg, MDSurgical Director, Center for Lung Failure; Robert N. Taub, MD, PhDmedical oncologist and Director, Mesothelioma Center; Mary Louise Keohan, MDmedical oncologist; and their surgical, medical, and radiation oncology colleagues.

Mesothelioma patients enrolled in this Phase II protocol will receive a regimen of pre-operative chemotherapy in addition to post-operative chemotherapy and radiotherapy. To be considered for this study, patients must have histologically confirmed malignant mesothelioma, surgically accessible disease, no prior chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and no other serous medical or psychiatric illness.

For more information about this protocol, or to refer a patient, please call Mary Hesdorffer, RN, Clinical Study Coordinator, Mesothelioma Center, 212.305.4076; email