Baylor’s Mesothelioma Treatment Center was home to top mesothelioma specialist Dr. David Sugarbaker and his wide range of dedicated support staff until his death in 2018. Dr. Taylor Ripley and Dr. Eugene Choi now run the mesothelioma programs.

Benefits of Baylor Mesothelioma Treatment Center

The Mesothelioma Treatment Center (MTC) is a part of Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. The treatment center is organized as a 3-part program: treatment, research, and support.

Why Choose the Mesothelioma Treatment Center?

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    Dr. David Sugarbaker

    Dr. David Sugarbaker was the most well-known mesothelioma specialist in the country. He was known for developing the first major surgical procedure to treat pleural mesothelioma. Dr. Taylor Ripley and Dr. Eugene Choi now run the programs and fulfill his legacy.

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    Dedicated Support Staff

    The support staff at the Mesothelioma Treatment Center was designed by Dr. Sugarbaker to be all-encompassing. It includes medical assistants, social workers, a dietician, a patient navigator, and a chaplain.

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    Excellence in Research

    Baylor St. Luke’s is dedicated to developing new treatments and staying up to date with medical advances. They have several cutting edge clinical trials available for mesothelioma patients.

Get Connected to Baylor’s Mesothelioma Treatment Center

Get Connected to Baylor’s Mesothelioma Treatment Center - Form Image
The Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor St. Luke’s was founded by Dr. David Sugarbaker to be a comprehensive treatment center for mesothelioma patients.

What Baylor has to offer:
  • Top of the line clinical trials
  • Expansive support staff
  • Personalized care and treatments

About Dr. David Sugarbaker

Dr. David Sugarbaker was the chief of the Division of General Thoracic Surgery and the director and founder of the Lung Institute at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, which includes the Mesothelioma Treatment Center. Before coming to Baylor, Dr. Sugarbaker was the chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for many years.

Before his death in 2018, Dr. Sugarbaker was an internationally renowned mesothelioma specialist. He focused on treating pleural mesothelioma since 1988 and pioneered the extrapleural pneumonectomy, one of the first and only effective surgeries for pleural mesothelioma.

Dr. Sugarbaker was known to say, “When hope is part of the equation, anything is possible.”

Meet the Support Staff

Dr. Sugarbaker assembled an extensive support staff for the MTC. Get to know a few of the team members:

  • Dietician – Cheryl Bixby is the clinical dietician dedicated to the mesothelioma patients. Dr. Sugarbaker was very adamant about having a nutritionist or a dietician on the team. Cheryl doesn’t put strict restrictions on her patients, she just encourages them to maintain a high-protein and low sugar diet before and after surgery to keep them strong.
  • Chaplain – Tony Leachman is the chaplain at the lung institute. He stresses that his role is not to win converts, nor is he only there when things go bad. Tony is there for patients when they need someone to talk to and when they need spiritual guidance. Tony supports all patients regardless of their beliefs or religion.
  • Social Worker – One of the social workers on staff is Teri Johnson-Harper. Her role revolves around care management. Teri keeps up with patients from making arrangements to get to Houston, to throughout their treatment, to post-surgical care in the hospital, and into the future. She ensures patients receive the best treatment throughout their care.

Aggressive Treatments & Recovery

Mesothelioma Surgery

Dr. Sugarbaker helped pioneer the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) for pleural mesothelioma. One entire lung, and sometimes other tumor-affected tissue, is removed in this surgical method. Many doctors try to avoid removing the whole lung but Dr. Sugarbaker believes that this aggressive cancer needs aggressive treatment.

Pleural mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lung but can often invade the lung itself too. Not every patient needs to have their lung removed, Dr. Sugarbaker takes each patient’s individual circumstances into account. He often performs the pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) lung-sparing surgery. His goal is to remove as much tumor as possible to keep the cancer from returning.

Recovery Plan

Dr. Sugarbaker is not just aggressive about his treatment plan, he’s also aggressive about recovery. He wants his patients to recover in the quickest and safest way possible. Dr. Sugarbaker has his patients walking again almost immediately after surgery. He accomplishes this by using a walker that is sometimes affectionately referred to as the “Sugarbaker-mobile.”

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The walker is able to carry oxygen tanks, IV bags, and any other necessities for patients. It also has armrests and ways to lean or sit for a rest.

In this video, Jerry Bagwell and his wife describe his treatment and recovery experience:

Is Baylor’s Mesothelioma Treatment Center Right for You?

Since Dr. David Sugarbaker transferred to Baylor, the Mesothelioma Treatment Center is quickly becoming one of the top choices for mesothelioma patients.

There are many advantages to choosing MTC at Baylor:

  • Led by one of the most renowned mesothelioma specialists
  • Offers opportunities to join important clinical trials
  • Has an extensive support staff to help you along the way

Our patient advocates can help you decide if Baylor’s Mesothelioma Treatment center is the right cancer center for you. They can also explain your options for discounted travel. Connect to this treatment center or get answers to your questions through our Doctor Match Program.