The Mayo Clinic was founded in 1800. From day one, it has followed the philosophy of putting patients’ needs first. The hospital, based in Rochester, MN, was originally named ‘St. Mary’s Hospital’ and only had three members of staff, which were Dr. William Worrel Mayo, Dr. William J. Mayo, and Dr. Charles Mayo. William and Charles were William Worrel’s sons. The hospital was founded on a number of principles that are still followed today:

  • A team of specialists should provide the highest quality medical care.
  • Patients should be listened to and given the time to receive quality medical care.
  • The patient’s local physician should be a partner in the treatment plan.
  • All medical care should be provided with trust and compassion.
  • The focus should be on the most state of the art diagnostic techniques and technologies, and the most advanced therapeutic care.

Thanks to this philosophy, the U.S. News and World Report has ranked it as the 3rd best hospital in the country, as well as 4th best hospital specific for cancer treatment. From its humble beginnings, the hospital now employs some of the most respected physicians in the world. Every year, hundreds of thousands of patients are treated here. In fact, some 32,000 members of staff are employed.

A Dedication to Cancer Treatment and Research

The Cancer Center at the Mayo Clinic is truly state of the art. It has received National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, which it has held for 40 years. This designation is nothing short of prestigious, and demonstrates how committed and dedicated the clinic is to cancer research and developing new forms of treatment. The cancer center has locations in Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota, providing the highest possible levels of patient care. In fact, mesothelioma sufferers the world over come here for treatment. It is also home to experts in oncology, thoracic surgery, radiation therapy, pathology, and pulmonary medicine.

Every year, the Minnesota Mayo Clinic diagnoses and treats some 12,000 new cancer patients, covering over 200 different forms of cancer. Because of this, the center has the greatest expertise in treating various malignancies, many of which are very rare. This includes mesothelioma. Additionally, some 40% of Mayo Clinic funding is spent on research. As a result, patients are given the opportunity to take part in clinical trials as well.

Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Specialists at the Mayo Clinic

There are a number of doctors at the Mayo Clinic who specialize specifically in lung cancer and mesothelioma. They include:

  • Dr. Mark S. Allen, M.D., who is a thoracic surgeon, has received American Board of Surgery and Thoracic Surgery certification. He also works as a surgery professor at the Mayo Medical School and has authored a number of peer reviewed studies, including clinical trials.
  • Dr. Stephen D. Cassivi, M.D., who is also a thoracic surgeon and who has received certification not just from the American Board of Surgery and Thoracic Surgery, but also from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He also works as a surgery associate professor at the Mayo Medical School and has had a number of publications in medical journals. He has strong involvement in clinical trials, focusing particularly on using spiral CT scans to detect lung cancer and mesothelioma as early as possible.
  • Dr. Francis C. Nichols III, M.D., who is also a thoracic surgeon. He is also the chair of the Division of General Thoracic Surgery at the Department of Surgery. Just like the other two doctors, he is certified by the American Board of Surgery and Thoracic Surgery. Furthermore, he is a surgery associated professor at the Mayo Medical School. Furthermore, he has taken part in numerous studies that have been published.

The three doctors have taken part in a significant study on managing malignant pleural mesothelioma. This study involved some 285 individual patients, who all had extrapleural pneumonectomies. During this study, it was found that the procedure, while invasive, significantly improved overall survival rates, particularly compared to a subtotal pleurectomy, biopsy, or exploration without resection. In these cases, the three year survival rate for mesothelioma was just 14%.

Clinical Trials and Research

The Mayo Clinic takes serving the community very seriously. As such, they address numerous local health issues. Recently, the Iron Range of Minnesota has seen a significant increase in the number of new mesothelioma cases. It is believed that this is due to taconite exposure, with taconite being a very similar mineral to asbestos. Research has been conducted by Juan Molina, M.D., and Stephen Russell, M.D., who are looking at new treatment options for mesothelioma.

Dr. Russell completed one study, which was funded by the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics. Here, the measles virus was taken and modified in order for them to transport toxic drugs straight to mesothelioma cells. The study has currently been conducted on animals, and this showed that the virus was able to double a mouse’s overall lifespan. Currently, the same study is at Phase I, which means between 12 and 36 patients are being offered the virus to determine its effectiveness. It is already known that the virus works as a treatment for ovarian cancer. If successful, it will be a landmark moment in the treatment for mesothelioma, not in the least because it carries far fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

Dr. Molina, oncologist, is also leading a three year clinical trial. This will involve some 500 patients and is currently in Phase II clinical trial. It is looking at pazopanib, which is the generic form of the kidney cancer pill developed by GlaxoSmithKline, Votrient. At present, it has been suggested that the drug may kill mesothelioma cancer cells. What makes this drug so special is that most chemotherapy drugs kill all quickly growing cells, whereas Pazopanib only kills those cells that are cancerous and quickly form new blood vessels. The treatment has far fewer side effects and has the potential to greatly increase prognosis. In fact, preliminary results show a six months greater survival rate and a much improved overall quality of life.

The Mayo Clinic Leads the Way in Mesothelioma

Using clinical trials and relevant research, the Mayo Clinic is able to offer the latest, most advanced treatment options for people with mesothelioma. This includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy, emerging treatment options, and surgery. The care provided to patients is nothing short of outstanding, not in the least thanks to the commitment of the doctors to truly understand each individual patient and their diagnosis, ensuring care is suitable to their particular needs.

Patients are always assigned a primary doctor at the Mayo Clinic. Where possible, this doctor will be involved in research for that specific condition. The clinic is committed to working together with other professionals, which means that an individualized treatment plan can be created for each patient, based on the collective knowledge and experience of a range of different specialists.