Dr. Anne Tsao is currently the director of the mesothelioma program at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston, where she also teaches, and is widely considered one of the nation’s top authorities on malignant mesothelioma. She is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology and specializes in thoracic, head, and neck oncology. Tsao has written and been involved in several articles published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and other professional journals, in addition to leading a number of clinical trials.
Before starting her professional career, Tsao earned her medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and completed an internship and residency at Indiana University. She completed a second residency and a fellowship at the University of Texas, where she now resides.
Tsao’s specialty, malignant mesothelioma, is an extremely aggressive form of cancer with a relatively low survival rate. In light of this, she has advocated for the use of novel and sometimes controversial treatments such as extrapleural pneumonectomy, which involves the removal of lung tissue and the linings of the heart and lungs. This procedure requires advanced technology and is therefore only performed at the more modern and well-equipped facilities such as the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. In addition, she advocates for the use of certain chemical agents to reduce the likelihood of cancer among high-risk communities (i.e. those in contact with asbestos or other known carcinogens).
Tsao also is an ardent supporter of using gene therapy and immunotherapy to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma and has lectured on these subjects at medical centers and universities around the world. While mesothelioma gene targets faulty genes that cause otherwise healthy cells to mutate, such as triggering “suicide genes” in cancer cells, immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. Both gene therapy and immunotherapy are considered emerging treatments that have shown great promise in combating mesothelioma.
Her studies on the smoking history of cancer patients have shed important light on the impact of smoking on the prognosis of mesothelioma and similar lung cancers. She regularly leads multiple clinical trials of cutting edge cancer treatments as the principal investigator.
In addition to her research and work with patients, Tsao also is a member of both the Scientific Board of the American Radium Society and the Southwest Oncology Steering Committee. She has received a number of awards for her work in the field and community, including an American Society of Clinical Oncology Merit Award, a National Institutes of Health Clinician Scientist K12 Award, and a Head and Neck SPORE Career Development Award.
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