Moffitt Cancer Center

12902 USF Magnolia Drive, Tampa, Florida 33612

Moffitt Cancer Center, in Tampa, Florida, is one of the leading medical institutions for thoracic malignancies. The cancer hospital welcomes patients with malignant mesothelioma of all types and has a specialist on staff.

Moffitt Cancer Center
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Pleural Mesothelioma

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H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

12902 USF Magnolia Drive

Tampa, Florida

Dr. Jacques Fontaine


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More About Mesothelioma Treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center

The official name of the center is H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, the third-largest cancer center in the United States. This hospital is accredited with the National Cancer Institute. It’s one of only two hospitals in Florida with this distinction.

Dr. Jacques Fontaine is the section head of Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center. He’s a highly regarded thoracic surgeon involved in clinical trials and research.

Dr. Fontaine joined Moffitt Cancer Center as a thoracic surgeon in 2011. He kick-started an official division of mesothelioma treatment. A decade later, Moffitt Cancer Center is one of the top mesothelioma hospitals in the world.

The center has around 70 cases per year of pleural mesothelioma. Dr. Fontaine and his team operate on approximately 14 (20%) of them.

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Experienced Mesothelioma Specialists

    • Dr. Jacques Fontaine, section head of mesothelioma treatment
    • Dr. Jhanelle Gray, Chair of Medical Oncology
    • Dr. Eric Haura, medical oncologist
    • Dr. Ben Creelan, medical oncologist
    • Dr. Farah Khalil, pathologist
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    • University of South Florida
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Treatment Specialties

    • Pleurectomy/decortication surgery
    • Extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery
    • Immunotherapy
    • Chemotherapy
    • Radiation therapy
    • Tumor treating fields therapy
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Get Connected to Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt Cancer Center is a leader in mesothelioma treatment, research and clinical trials. Dr. Jacques Fontaine started the center’s Mesothelioma Treatment department in 2011. It has one of the highest case volumes for pleural mesothelioma in the country.

Why Choose Moffitt Cancer Center?

  • Clinical trials hosted at hospital
  • Versatile surgeon can perform multiple operations
  • Many treatment options

We value your privacy and will never sell or rent your personal information to any third party.

Protocol for Treatment With Surgery

Surgery for mesothelioma includes either pleurectomy/decortication or extrapleural pneumonectomy. Pleurectomy/decortication leaves both lungs intact and an extrapleural pneumonectomy takes out a lung. Pleurectomy/decortication removes the pleural lining, diaphragm and lining around the heart.

Patients at Moffitt Cancer Center either have surgery right away or begin systemic therapy. Surgical patients at this center usually have surgery right away to avoid tumors growing and spreading.

Systemic therapy includes immunotherapy or chemotherapy. Following surgery, patients have systemic chemotherapy. If that falters, they receive an immunotherapy regimen (either immune checkpoint inhibitors or the anti-VEGF drug bevacizumab).

Radiation Therapy Following Surgery

Following surgery, patients may also receive mesothelioma radiation on one side of the chest. This is a common option after extrapleural pneumonectomy (radiation targeted at the space where the lung was removed).

Adjuvant radiation therapy is only offered in clinical trials following pleurectomy/decortication. The presence of both lungs makes radiation tricky, as the therapy may damage healthy lung tissue.

“Even if you’re doing proton radiation — which is hard to find and not available in any center — there’s still a significant chance of burning the lung or burning the esophagus, which can be fatal,” Dr. Fontaine explained. “While there are tremendous improvements, it should be done at a center that has experience doing radiation for mesothelioma.”

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Hospital Ranking

    • Not listed in the U.S. News & World Report 2023-2024 Hospitals Honor Roll
    • Ranked 31st for cancer treatment
    • Not ranked for gastrointestinal cancer surgery
    • Not ranked for lung cancer surgery

Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy and Tumor Treating Fields

The aim for systemic therapy is to increase survival without decreasing quality of life. Chemotherapy can add months to a patient’s life but also causes uncomfortable side effects. Immunotherapy does not have the extended history of treating mesothelioma cancer as chemotherapy does, but it has shown great results with mesothelioma patients. Immunotherapy also causes fewer adverse reactions than chemotherapy.

“Chemotherapy has a longer track record,” Dr. Fontaine said. “We know it works. It doesn’t cure, but it extends life.”

Optune Lua, the FDA-approved tumor treating fields therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma, is an option through Moffitt Cancer Center. It sends electromagnetic waves through the chest cavity, disrupting tumor growth.

Dr. Fontaine said it’s “an exciting new technology” but he’s not sure it helps life expectancy.

“It probably doesn’t hurt patients but it’s cumbersome,” he said, noting it’s a device patients wear most of the day. “You have to wear this thing all the time, and it can cause skin irritation. It probably doesn’t hurt, but we don’t have enough to know if it helps.”

How to Treat Sarcomatoid Cell Type

For cases of sarcomatoid cell histology, surgery is typically not an option. This cell type can be difficult to remove in most cases.

These patients usually begin immunotherapy — the checkpoint inhibitors Opdivo and Yervoy — first. This option seems to benefit sarcomatoid cases immensely.

“We do have some data with nivolumab (Opdivo) and ipilimumab (Yervoy) showing it does help, especially in the sarcomatoid patients,” Dr. Fontaine said. “It has less side effects and is better tolerated.”

How to Get Treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center

The team at Moffitt covers every aspect of multimodal treatment for mesothelioma. Aside from Dr. Fontaine, some of the medical professionals involved in treatment of this cancer are:

  • Dr. Ben Creelan, medical oncologist
  • Dr. Jhanelle Gray, chair of medical oncology
  • Dr. Bradford Perez, radiation oncologist
  • Terry Depin, RN, nurse navigator

We will be happy to help you or a loved one get in touch with the staff at Moffitt Cancer Center. The first step is reaching out to our registered nurse and patient advocate, Karen Ritter, for assistance.

Karen’s email is karen@mesotheliomaguide.com. You can also send her a message through our Contact a Patient Advocate page. She’ll be happy to help you contact a top cancer facility, such as Moffitt Cancer Center, or assist in any way possible.

Sources & Author

  1. Your Mesothelioma Specialists. Moffitt Cancer Center. Retrieved from: https://moffitt.org/cancers/mesothelioma/your-mesothelioma-specialists/. Accessed: 05/17/2023.
  2. Jacques Fontaine, MD. Moffitt Cancer Center. Retrieved from: https://moffitt.org/providers/jacques-fontaine/. Accessed: 10/22/2021.
  3. Ben Creelan, MD. Moffitt Cancer Center. Retrieved from: https://moffitt.org/providers/ben-creelan/. Accessed: 10/22/2021.
  4. Bradford Perez, MD. Moffitt Cancer Center. Retrieved from: https://moffitt.org/providers/bradford-perez/. Accessed: 10/22/2021.
  5. Department of Thoracic Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center. Moffitt Cancer Center. Retrieved from: https://moffitt.org/media/4184/thoracic-oncology-brochure_web.pdf. Accessed: 10/22/2021.
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About the Writer, Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Karen Ritter, a registered nurse, is the lead patient advocate for Mesothelioma Guide. She has a deep passion for patient care, which includes helping patients and their families search for treatment options at the top mesothelioma cancer centers. She finds the balance between encouraging patients to receive the best treatment possible while enjoying their time with loved ones and friends. Karen is a valuable asset for patients due to her knowledge of mesothelioma, compassion for the victims of this disease and dedication to guiding patients through their treatment journey.