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More About Mesothelioma Treatment at Michigan Medicine
With a high-profile addition to its staff, Michigan Medicine launched its pleural mesothelioma program in 2019. The facility added Dr. Elliot Wakeam, a thoracic surgeon trained at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. He left Michigan Medicine in 2022 to re-join Toronto General Hospital.
Dr. Wakeam brought more than a decade of experience working with mesothelioma patients. He brought with him an innovative treatment protocol, which utilizes radiation in tandem with surgery.
Michigan Medicine’s launch of a mesothelioma program is a huge boost for people living in the upper-midwest region. Patients get treated at the Rogel Cancer Center, part of Michigan Medicine. Rogel Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated institution. It’s one of just two with this prestigious label in the state of Michigan.
Most mesothelioma cancer centers are along the eastern and western coastlines. Now people living in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana have a new option for treatment without traveling thousands of miles.
- Dr. Gregory Kalemkerian, medical oncologist
- University of Michigan
- Rogel Cancer Center
- SMART for pleural mesothelioma
- Radiation therapy
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery
Get Connected to Michigan Medicine
Michigan Medicine is one of the latest hospitals to add a mesothelioma treatment program. The staff includes an esteemed thoracic surgeon who has developed a protocol for treating pleural mesothelioma.
Why Choose Michigan Medicine?
- Innovative approach to treating mesothelioma
- Led by a surgeon trained at Toronto’s top cancer center
- Located in a U.S. region with few options for treatment
SMART for Mesothelioma
SMART for mesothelioma is Michigan Medicine’s groundbreaking protocol. SMART is an acronym for “surgery for mesothelioma after radiation therapy.” SMART utilizes “neoadjuvant” radiation, which is radiotherapy occurring before surgery.
SMART is for pleural mesothelioma. It was conceptualized at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto.
“We use radiation to sterilize the margins (of the disease),” Dr. Wakeam said. “There are several advantages to SMART.”
The Michigan Medicine staff is open to SMART for patients with biphasic and sarcomatoid mesothelioma cell types. This allows more people to receive life-saving treatment.
What Is Part of SMART at Michigan Medicine?
Patients undergo five days of radiation therapy. Once the treatment step concludes, there’s a five-day pause to allow patients to recover. They then undergo surgery, either extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) or pleurectomy with decortication (P/D).
Following surgery, patients may receive further radiation or chemotherapy if needed. Dr. Wakeam and his staff are also looking into using mesothelioma immunotherapy with radiation.
Survival Rates of SMART for Mesothelioma
At the Princess Margaret Cancer Center, the SMART approach led to extraordinary results. For patients with the epithelioid cell type:
- The median survival was 51 months
- Around 72% survived for at least three years
- Listed in the U.S. News & World Report 2023-2024 Hospitals Honor Roll
- Ranked 34th in cancer treatment
- Ranked 28th in gastrointestinal cancer surgery
- Ranked 19th in lung cancer surgery
- Ranked 1st in state of Michigan
- Ranked 1st in Detroit
If you go to Michigan Medicine, there are many others involved with your medical care. They include a:
- Medical oncologist
- Radiation oncologist
- Registered nurse and clinic coordinator, equivalent to a nurse navigator
They all play a role in creating a patient-first culture at Michigan Medicine. There is no set-in-stone approach to treating mesothelioma.
The patient advocates at Mesothelioma Guide have connections with the Michigan Medicine staff. Our team can help you set up an appointment to meet with these esteemed medical professionals. Contact one of our patient advocates at 1-888-385-2024 or fill out this form to have a team member contact you.
Sources & Author
- Gregory Peter Kalemkerian, MD. University of Michigan Health. Retrieved from: https://www.uofmhealth.org/profile/224/gregory-peter-kalemkerian-md. Accessed: 09/13/2021.
- University of Michigan Hospitals-Michigan Medicine. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from: https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/area/mi/university-of-michigan-hospitals-and-health-centers-6440110. Accessed: 09/13/2021.