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H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa is one of the country’s leading facilities for treating cancer of all types, including mesothelioma. Opened in 1986, Moffitt is now designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute and is a leader in innovative treatments and cutting edge research. The Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center, established in 2012, and the Thoracic Oncology Department provide patients with multi-disciplinary and multimodal treatment plans, as well as access to clinical trials.


The history of the Moffitt Cancer Center dates back to 1978. H. Lee Moffitt was a Florida state representative at the time and he was interested in getting a cancer center established in Tampa. He had personally survived cancer and also lost friends to cancer and wanted Tampa to become a recognized center for researching and treating cancer. He faced a lot of roadblocks but persisted because of his personal experiences but also because cancer rates were high in Florida.

Eventually Moffitt was successful and the state Legislature approved $600,000 for the planning of a 240-bed facility in 1981. Later that year the Legislature approved a further $3.5 million to put the plans into action. A cigarette tax was proposed to help fund the new cancer center, a fitting source of money for the purpose of the new medical facility. The cancer center finally opened its doors in 1986.

The Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center

The Moffitt Cancer Center has several divisions within it, including the Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center that opened in 2012. Knowing that mesothelioma patients get the best care and experience the best outcomes when receiving treatment at a specialist facility, Moffitt added this treatment center to collect experts in the field to provide that specialized care. Patients visiting the treatment center do not need a referral and benefit from personalized treatment plans, a collaborative approach to treatment, and access to novel and as-yet unavailable treatments.

A Team of Experts

The Moffitt Cancer Center and Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center are staffed by a collection of experts in cancer and mesothelioma, all part of the thoracic oncology department and are led by medical oncologist Dr. Scott Antonia, the department chair. Dr. Antonia has been at Moffitt since 1994 and trained as a medical oncologist and in immunobiology. His research has largely focused on using immunotherapies to treat cancer patients. Also on staff are pathologists, pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, and radiologists.

Mesothelioma Treatment at Moffitt

The Moffitt Cancer Center offers patients with mesothelioma hope because it offers such a diverse array of treatment options and the ability to have a team of experts personalize a treatment plan for each and every patient. The specialists form a multi-disciplinary team that collaborates to provide each patient with the best care and the best chance of extending their lives beyond their initial prognosis.

Some of the treatments that are offered at Moffitt include surgical procedures. Extrapleural pneumonectomy, which can only be performed by experienced surgeons is offered here and is a radical surgery that removes an entire lung in an attempt to cure pleural mesothelioma. Patients at Moffitt may also opt for the less radical pleurectomy/decortication surgery. Most patients benefit from surgery along with another type of treatment: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, brachytherapy, heated intraoperative peritoneal chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or tomotherapy.

A Comprehensive Cancer Center

Moffitt Cancer Center has been designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a Comprehensive Cancer Center. This designation means that Moffitt is part of a national network of facilities dedicated to treatment and research of cancer, funded by the NCI and National Institute of Health. To get this designation a facility like Moffitt has to conduct cutting edge treatment, but also must provide innovative treatments and excellent patient care. Together this network of cancer centers is advancing knowledge of all types of cancers, including mesothelioma, and is instrumental in translating research into real and effective treatments for patients.

Research at Moffitt

Moffitt is an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center, which means that it excels at cancer research and receives NCI and other government grants to conduct studies and clinical trials. At Moffitt, researchers collaborate on numerous projects that fall under five major categories of research: cancer epidemiology, chemical biology and molecular medicine, cancer biology and evolution, immunology, and health outcomes and behavior. Together these cross a wide range of subjects of importance to those living with cancer, from a basic understanding of cancer to innovative treatments to quality of care, prevention, and quality of life.

For even greater collaboration with other researchers, Moffitt participates in and was a founding member of ORIEN, the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network. This is a research partnership that connects many of the best cancer research institutes in North America by creating and maintaining a database of patient information. Researchers can access this information to collaborate with each other and to be better able to conduct their research projects.

Some examples of Moffitt’s research includes: using mathematical modeling find ways to limit the growth of tumors, developing novel drugs for treating cancer, discovering genetic risk factors for cancer, immune cell therapies, and the development of vaccines to treat cancers.

Clinical Trials

One of the most important types of research conducted at Moffitt is in leading clinical trials. These are studies using real patients to determine if new treatments are effective and safe. They not only help researchers develop better treatments, but they also give patients more opportunities for treatment choices and for seeing better outcomes. An example of a clinical trial at Moffitt is an ongoing trial that is using immunotherapy and a vaccine to treat mesothelioma.

Researchers and clinicians at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center are leading the way in cancer research and treatment. With a special department devoted to all types of mesothelioma, this Tampa facility is also becoming a leader in treating and managing this most challenging of cancers. Patients do not have to have a referral to come to Moffitt and are welcome to contact the Center to make an appointment for a consultation and to get started on a mesothelioma treatment plan.

Page edited by Dave Foster

Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available. Connect with Patient Advocate Dave Foster

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