Dr. Wickii Vigneswaran

Director of Thoracic Surgery at Loyola University Health System

Dr. Wickii Vigneswaran leads the mesothelioma program at Loyola University Health System, which is located in a western suburb of Chicago. He’s one of the top surgeons for pleural mesothelioma.

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Pleural Mesothelioma

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Loyola University Health System

2160 S. 1st Ave., Maywood, IL 60153

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More About Mesothelioma Specialist Dr. Wickii Vigneswaran

Dr. Vigneswaran is the Director of Thoracic Surgery at Loyola University Health System, the medical affiliate of Loyola University. He’s an internationally recognized thoracic surgeon with a clinical focus on pleural mesothelioma. Loyola’s health system includes Loyola University Medical Center and Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center.

In addition to his medical practice, he is a professor of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at Loyola University School of Medicine.

Dr. Vigneswaran joined Loyola University Health System in 2016 to help build the hospital’s thoracic surgery program. This is after creating the thoracic surgery program at UChicago Medicine, which includes the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“I got into cardiothoracic surgery,” he said of his road to becoming a mesothelioma specialist. “You don’t often come across mesothelioma. … At the University of Chicago, we had a full team for a multidisciplinary approach.

“I produced the same environment at Loyola where I am now.”

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Medical Degrees and Residencies

    • Medical Degree from University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, India, 1977
    • Fellowship in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, 1993
    • Residency in Thoracic Surgery at Royal Infirmary of Glasgow, Scotland, 1981
    • Residency in Thoracic Surgery at Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Scotland, 1981
    • Residency in Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital
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Certifications and Memberships

    • Certified in cardiothoracic vascular surgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
    • Membership in the American College of Surgeons
    • Past president of the International College of Surgeons

Get Connected to Dr. Wickii Vigneswaran

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Dr. Vigneswaran leads one of the top cancer centers for mesothelioma in the country. Loyola University Health System has around 50 cases of pleural mesothelioma each year. Many are operable, relying on Dr. Vigneswaran’s expertise at Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center.

Why Choose Dr. Vigneswaran?

  • Performs radical, life‑saving surgery for mesothelioma
  • Neoadjuvant and adjuvant treatment with surgery
  • Leads a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals








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Choosing P/D Surgery Over EPP Surgery

Dr. Vigneswaran is skilled performing both surgeries for pleural mesothelioma: extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) surgery; and pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) surgery. The latter option is his preference for most of his cases.

“I do some extrapleural pneumonectomy but it’s very selective,” he said, “on patients who are younger and have early stage mesothelioma. The majority of my patients are in their 70s or 80s (age) and have other comorbidities.”

Pleural mesothelioma forms in the lining between the lungs and chest wall. This thin lining is close enough to the lungs to put the organs at risk. However, not many lung cancer specialists have experience treating mesothelioma. This makes Dr. Vigneswaran and other specialists essential.

Extended P/D Surgery for Mesothelioma

Dr. Vigneswaran is one of many who prefers P/D surgery over EPP surgery for most malignant pleural mesothelioma cases. The extended form of P/D surgery is his recommendation. This surgery peels the pleural lining off the chest wall and surface of the lungs.

P/D surgery leaves both lungs intact but the extended form takes out the diaphragm and pericardium (lining around the heart).

“Most of the time you have to do the extended pleurectomy/decortication,” he said. “They don’t have early stage disease. They have significant disease. To remove the tumors, you have to do a radical operation.”

Dr. Vigneswaran and his team at Loyola University Health System see roughly 50‑60 cases a year. Most come to him wanting surgery. If they have epithelioid or biphasic histology then they’re likely a surgical candidate.

Front Lines of Therapeutic Evolution

As a highly regarded surgeon and researcher, Dr. Vigneswaran is one of the key contributors in the recent emergence of new therapies for malignant mesothelioma. He’s also a stakeholder in future progressions.

Surgery is a prime example of how far care for mesothelioma patients has come. EPP was the only surgical option, and then it was the highly preferred option to P/D surgery. During the past 20 or so years, the shift has favored P/D surgery.

Immunotherapy has been a huge benefit for mesothelioma. It was approved in 2020 for unresectable cases. It has become a primary option for people with sarcomatoid mesothelioma.

Looking to Targeted Therapy

Dr. Vigneswaran believes the next evolution is targeted therapy. Immune checkpoint inhibitors, like Opdivo and Yervoy, target specific proteins and biomarkers on the surface of tumor cells. More therapies like this could benefit a larger percentage of patients.

“It’s nothing concrete,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what’s the target and what are the effects of targeting the disease.”

An example is T‑cell therapy. This involves enhancing T‑cells or generating new‑and‑improved T‑cells to attack cells expressing one specific protein found on mesothelioma tumors.

“That’s just the beginning. … Targeting the molecular markers is minimal at the moment,” Dr. Vigneswaran said. “That’s the way forward.”

How to Contact Dr. Vigneswaran at Loyola University Health System

Connecting with Dr. Vigneswaran and his team at Loyola University Health System is simple — if you have help from a patient advocate. They can easily get you directly to Dr. Vigneswaran’s office to schedule an in‑person or virtual consultation.

Along with Loyola University Medical Center and Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Dr. Vigneswaran sees patients at:

  • Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Illinois
  • Elmhurst Hospital in Elmhurst, Illinois

There are three ways you can begin the process. First, you can contact a patient advocate for free by clicking that link and filling out your information. Second, you can fill out our free Doctor Match form at that link to get recommendations for the top specialists in your area.

Lastly, you can email our lead patient advocate directly. Karen Ritter, a registered nurse, is available at karen@mesotheliomaguide.com.

Sources & Author

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About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.