Dr. Matthew Steliga

Division Chief of Thoracic Surgery at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Dr. Matthew Steliga leads thoracic surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences affiliate cancer center. He’s the only pleural mesothelioma specialist and surgeon in the state.

Dr. Matthew Steliga

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Pleural Mesothelioma

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University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

4018 West Capitol Ave., Little Rock, AR 72205


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More About Mesothelioma Specialist Dr. Matthew Steliga

Dr. Steliga’s title is Division Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. This is the affiliate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Dr. Steligal also sees patients at Baptist Health Medical Center.

He joined the UAMS thoracic cancer staff in 2010. Dr. Steliga previously worked as a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. This institution is one of the best mesothelioma cancer centers. It’s where Dr. Steliga learned about pleural mesothelioma, which forms in the thin lining surrounding the lungs.

“I got a lot of good experience when I was working in Houston,” he said. “I found there was a surgical option for the right patients. It could really improve the quality of life and their longevity.
“It was a great opportunity to learn and bring that technique to Arkansas.”

He’s also an associate professor of surgery at UAMS. He previously was an instructor at the University of Texas, which is affiliated with MD Anderson Cancer Center. His research and published medical articles include staging mesothelioma with minimal invasiveness and how to help lung cancer patients quit smoking.

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Medical Degrees and Residencies

    • Medical Degree from Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, 2001
    • Residency in General Surgery at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis, 2006
    • Residency in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, 2008
    • Fellowship in Thoracic Surgery Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, 2009
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Certifications and Memberships

    • Certified by the American Board of Surgery
    • Certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery
    • Member of the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery
    • Member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons
    • Member of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer

Get Connected to Dr. Matthew Steliga

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Dr. Steliga is the lead thoracic surgeon at the only comprehensive cancer center in Arkansas. He’s the Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He can perform both extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery and pleurectomy with decortication surgery.

Why Choose Dr. Steliga?

  • Can perform surgery for pleural mesothelioma
  • Sees patients in Arkansas and neighboring states
  • Works with a multidisciplinary cancer team

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Only Comprehensive Cancer Center in Arkansas

UAMS has the only comprehensive cancer center and research facility in Arkansas. The Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute has a full team of medical professionals dedicated to treating mesothelioma.

Dr. Steliga said he sees patients from Oklahoma, Mississippi, eastern Tennessee, northern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. This is in addition to patients from Arkansas.

The total case volume is 6‑8 patients a year, with 3‑4 qualifying for mesothelioma surgery.

“Before I arrived,” he said, “we referred patients out of state for surgery. Now we don’t do that, which is good. A lot of patients can’t travel or they have difficulty traveling.”

Dr. Steliga is many patients’ first choice for diagnosis, but he can provide a second opinion on whether surgery is an option. If so, he has experience performing both extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleurectomy with decortication. So you won’t need to go to any other doctor or hospital to have surgery.

“We’ve been doing a lot more pleurectomy/decortication or even an extended pleurectomy where we take out the diaphragm and pericardium,” he said, noting EPP has more risks due to removing the lung.

“You remove the entire lung so a lot of patients have shortness of breath afterwards. … This is a difficult disease to treat so we want to improve people’s lifespan but also their quality of life.”

Multidisciplinary Evaluation Process

Each patient going to UAMS’ cancer center gets a multidisciplinary evaluation. This involves seeing a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist, pulmonologist, nurses, counselors and social workers.

The main radiation oncologist at UAMS for mesothelioma is Dr. Sanjay Maraboyina. The medical oncologists often helping with cases are:

  • Dr. Konstantinos Arnaoutakis
  • Dr. Sajjad Bhatti
  • Dr. Omar Atiq

The multidisciplinary approach means patients may receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy before P/D or EPP surgery. They also undergo a video‑assisted thoracoscopy to assess the stage. This is a minimally invasive biopsy for pleural mesothelioma.

Communication a Tentpole of Values

Dr. Steliga and his team prioritize proper communication. Patients come to the team for advice, honesty and expertise. This requires an upfront conversation about what this disease entails and how to beat it, along with the associated risks.

“It needs to be a very clear discussion of the difficult problem we’re facing and the limitations we have,” Dr. Steliga said. “We can and always do discuss best‑case scenarios with hope but have to understand common outcomes and worst‑case scenarios and then balance it all together.
“Even with the best efforts and all the right treatments, these are aggressive cancers and they can come back and recur even if we do everything exactly right.”

We can assist you in connecting with Dr. Steliga and his team. Our lead patient advocate, Karen Ritter, has access to a database of doctors and surgeons throughout the country. The UAMS cancer team is one of many institutions in our list. Email Karen, a registered nurse, at karen@mesotheliomaguide.com. You can also connect with us through our free Doctor Match program to learn the best option for a specialist.

Sources & Author

  1. Matthew A. Steliga, M.D. UAMS Health. Retrieved from: https://uamshealth.com/provider/matthew-a-steliga/. Accessed: 09/28/2021.
  2. Matthew Steliga. UAMS Translational Research Institute. Retrieved from: https://uams-triprofiles.uams.edu/profiles/display/127578. Accessed: 09/28/2021.
  3. Matthew Steliga, MD. Baptist Health. Retrieved from: https://www.baptist-health.com/doctor/matthew-steliga-md/. Accessed: 09/28/2021.
  4. Omar T. Atiq, M.D. UAMS Health. Retrieved from: https://uamshealth.com/provider/omar-t-atiq/. Accessed: 09/28/2021.
  5. Sanjay Maraboyina, M.D. UAMS Health. Retrieved from: https://uamshealth.com/provider/sanjay-maraboyina/. Accessed: 09/28/2021.
  6. Konstantinos Arnaoutakis, M.D. UAMS Health. Retrieved from: https://uamshealth.com/provider/konstantinos-arnaoutakis/. Accessed: 09/28/2021.
Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the senior 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.