Dr. Lorraine Cornwell

Section Head of General Thoracic Surgery at Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center

Dr. Lorraine Cornwell is one of the top thoracic surgeons in the country. Her clinical interest includes pleural mesothelioma. She sees veterans through the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Lorraine Cornwell

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Pleural Mesothelioma

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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center

2002 Holcombe Boulevard 5B‑170E, Houston, TX 77030


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More Information About Mesothelioma Specialist Dr. Lorraine Cornwell

Dr. Cornwell is Section Head of General Thoracic Surgery at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. This hospital is also called the Houston VA Medical Center. It’s one of the few VA hospitals able to treat veterans with mesothelioma. Dr. Cornwell is also the co-Principal Investigator of the hospital’s Lung Precision Oncology Program (LPOP). She has helped the program diagnose 30 lung cancer cases among veterans, with a propensity for diagnosing in early stages.

The VA hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Cornwell is part of the Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center mesothelioma team.

Dr. Cornwell is also an assistant professor of surgery for Baylor College of Medicine’s Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

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Medical Degrees and Residencies

    • Medical Degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, 1996
    • Residency in General Surgery at the University of North Carolina Health in Chapel Hill, 2001
    • Residency in Cardiothoracic Surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill‑Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 2003
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Certifications and Memberships

    • Certified in Thoracic Surgery by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery
    • Certified in General Surgery by the American Board of Surgery
    • Membership in the American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, Association of Veterans Affairs Surgeons, American Women’s Medical Association, Women in Thoracic Surgery and American Association for Thoracic Surgery

Get Connected to Dr. Lorraine Cornwell

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Dr. Cornwell is the leading surgeon for thoracic cancers at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, located in Houston, Texas. She also works at Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, one of the top mesothelioma hospitals.

Why Choose Dr. Cornwell?

  • Experience treating veterans with mesothelioma
  • Performs radical surgery for mesothelioma
  • Leads thoracic surgery at Houston’s VA medical center

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Focus on Veterans With Mesothelioma

A large number of veterans develop malignant mesothelioma after serving in the military. Asbestos exposure is rampant among veterans, which is why the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center is important. There are only two other VA hospitals with mesothelioma teams and specialists.

The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center is the only one based in the South. It opened its mesothelioma treatment program in 2019 with help from Baylor St. Luke’s for staff and resources.

“At the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Dr. Lorraine Cornwell and the Cardiothoracic Surgery team provide state‑of‑the‑art thoracic oncologic and cardiac surgical services to US military veterans,” Dr. Cornwell’s doctor bio page reads.

Surgery Options for Resection and Diagnosis

Dr. Cornwell performs aggressive surgery for pleural mesothelioma. The two options are pleurectomy/decortication and extrapleural pneumonectomy.

Pleurectomy/decortication surgery avoids taking out one of the lungs, which many doctors believe helps quality of life and recovery. Extrapleural pneumonectomy removes a lung, a decision mostly reserved for more advanced cases of mesothelioma.

She also uses video‑assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) for diagnosing this disease. Her research focuses on improving outcomes for VATS and cardiothoracic surgery.

Dr. Cornwell has received multiple awards:

  • 2020 Top Doctor in Cardiothoracic Surgery, Houstonia Magazine
  • STAR Faculty Award for Excellence in Patient Care, Baylor College of Medicine
  • 2021 Women of Excellence, Baylor College of Medicine

She started her medical career at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She received her degree from this institution and had her first residency here. Her second residency, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, was in cardiothoracic surgery. This was the launchpad for her clinical interest in mesothelioma surgery.

You can see Dr. Cornwell for a surgical consultation or second opinion on treatment. She’s also a resource for veterans with mesothelioma who are looking for a VA center treating this cancer. Email our patient advocate team, either nurse Karen Ritter or Navy veteran Carl Jewett, for help. Their emails are karen@mesotheliomaguide.com and cjewett@mesotheliomaguide.com.

Sources & Author

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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.