You probably don’t recognize the name of the late Dr. Irving J. Selikoff, M.D. If you are under treatment by a specialist for asbestos cancer however, chances are good that your physician is very familiar with Selikoff’s work; some may even have worked with or studied under him.
Irving Selikoff was one of the pioneers a field of medicine that is fast becoming a specialty all its own; the diagnosis and treatment of asbestos-related diseases. Current federal and state laws that regulate asbestos are due largely to Selikoff’s work at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. The Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, where many first responders of the World Trade Center / September 11th disaster are treated, is named in his honor.
Although the connection between asbestos and lung diseases such as mesothelioma had been known for over half a century by the time Selikoff turned his attention to the subject, he was among the first in the U.S. to undertake a serious study of asbestos diseases and make such information widely available to the public.
Because asbestos affects the body in different ways, many of which spread beyond the lungs, an effective asbestos doctor must be trained and have experience in several different specialties. Such doctors should have a thorough knowledge of oncology, respiratory system and thoracic surgery. Of course, it is a rare physician that knows everything necessary in order to treat asbestos diseases, not all of which are malignant or cancerous. Therefore, most asbestos patients are treated by a team of physicians, each of whom brings their own specialty to the table.
Such a team will usually consist of a thoracic surgeon, a lung specialist and a pathologist as well as one’s primary care physician. If the disease is lung cancer or malignant mesothelioma, the team will include an oncologist and very likely a radiologist as well.
Although asbestosis – a non-malignant scarring of the lung – is far more common, most of the top physicians in the U.S. specializing in asbestos diseases today work in the field of oncology.
In this section of Asbestos.net, you will find biographical information on and curricula vitae of the foremost asbestos treatment physicians currently practicing around the country. Some of the people you will learn about on these pages include Dr. Eric Vallieres of the Swedish Cancer Institute of Seattle, Washington, and Dr. W. Roy Smythe of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. These physicians have developed multi-disciplinary approaches in the treatment of asbestos-related lung cancers and are at the cutting edge of asbestos cancer research, and are only two of the many men and women of medical science of whom you can read more about on this part of Asbestos.net.