Dr. Anne Tsao

Dr. Anne Tsao

Thoracic Surgeon

Dr. Anne Tsao is an internationally known mesothelioma expert and thoracic oncologist. As an avid researcher, she studies the molecular mechanisms of mesothelioma. Her research has led to the discovery of different genes and molecules that may be useful targets for cancer treatments, as well as the development of proton therapy as a method of treatment for mesothelioma.

  • Procedure Proton Therapy
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 1515 Holcombe Blvd. Houston, Texas 77030

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About Dr. Anne Tsao

Dr. Anne Tsao has been working as a thoracic oncologist for 20 years. She is the director of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s (MDACC) department of mesothelioma as well as the director of their thoracic chemo-radiation program.

On top of that, she is also a professor for the MDACC’s department of thoracic/head and neck medical oncology. As a professor, she has conducted many lectures both nationally and internationally on different and new therapies for aerodigestive malignancies.

Dr. Tsao is a leader in her field when it comes to researching malignant mesothelioma and thoracic oncology. Currently, she is focusing on finding new gene therapy treatments for mesothelioma.

Awards and Contributions

Dr. Tsao has been recognized for her tireless efforts to find a cure or new methods of treatment.

She has been recognized with the following awards:

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology Merit Award
  • MD Anderson Achievement in Research Award
  • Head and Neck SPORE Career Development Award
  • ASCO Young Investigator Award
  • ASCO Career Development Award
  • NIH Clinician Scientist K12 Award

Based on her research and that of her teams, she has written or co-authored more than 100 publications in a variety of academic journals.

Her research is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Journal of Thoracic Oncology, Cancer, Nature Medicine Clinical Oncology, and Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Memberships and Organizations

Dr. Anne Tsao serves on many committees, boards, and is an active member of many national and international oncology societies.

She is a member of the following organizations:

  • MDACC Clinical Research Committee (Co-Chair)
  • SWOG (formerly known as the Southwest Oncology Group) Mesothelioma Steering Committee
  • SWOG Lung Executive Committee
  • Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) Lung Executive Committee
  • Scientific Board of the American Radium Society

On top of that, she works with ASCO and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to lobby the U.S. Congress to improve the amounts of funding they provide for cancer research.

As it currently stands, the government only approves eight out of every 100 research grant proposals they receive.

Dr. Taso is also a member of the following medical research associations:

  • International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) development program


After completing a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Tsao attended the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine where she earned her medical degree in 1998.

Next, she did an internship and residency in internal medicine at the Indiana University Department of Internal Medicine in Indianapolis.

When her residency was finished, she completed a fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Medical Specializations

Dr. Anne Tsao is a leader in her field when it comes to researching mesothelioma and studying thoracic oncology.

Like most leading experts, she believes that the best way to treat mesothelioma is from a multidisciplinary perspective — working cooperatively with other specialists like radiologists, oncologists, and surgeons.

Did You Know?

To provide her patients with the best care, she and her teams use individualized treatment plans that include novel therapies like immunotherapy or proton therapy.

Every patient and every instance of mesothelioma is unique, which is why Dr. Tsao supports individualized treatment plans.

Instead of following a single treatment plan for all of her patients, she works with her patients to figure out which treatment paths are most effective depending on disease stage, prognosis, and available treatments.

Mesothelioma Research

At this time, Dr. Tsao is the principal investigator for several of MDACC’s active clinical trials. When it comes to research, Dr. Tsao concentrates on the molecular components of cancer so she can further individualize treatment plans.

Dr. Tsao spends her time focusing on genes, such as the SRC kinase gene, and proteins, like N-cadherin, to determine their connection to cancer.

Once she’s determined the relationship between genes or proteins and mesothelioma, she and other researchers use that knowledge to look for new treatment methods or better diagnostic methods.

Dr. Tsao is the National Health Institute’s (NHI) principal investigator for phase 1 and 2 of a trial that’s testing pemetrexed and cisplatin (standard mesothelioma chemotherapy drugs) with or without cediranib maleate — a substance that may inhibit tumor growth — to treat pleural mesothelioma.

The study is trying to determine what the best dosage of cediranib maleate would be when used with the other chemotherapy drugs.

Proton Therapy

One of Dr. Tsao’s areas of expertise is proton therapy. While proton therapy has been used to treat other forms of cancer, she helped develop this procedure as a treatment option for mesothelioma.

Proton therapy is a form of external-beam radiation therapy. In proton therapy, the radiation travels from a machine outside of the patient, through their skin and to the tumor.

Did You Know?

Studies are suggesting that proton therapy delivers up to 60% less radiation to the healthy cells surrounding the tumor than conventional radiation therapies.

Targeted proton therapy likely produces less severe side effects than those from standard radiation.

Unlike photon-based external-beam radiation therapy, the protons or high energy positively charged particles used in proton therapy go to specific places within the body without damaging additional cells.

Part of the reason for that is the protons stop at the tumor, but with standard X-rays, the rays continue to deposit radiation as they leave the body.


In addition to her study for NHI on using cediranib maleate combined with other chemotherapy drugs, Dr. Tsao is currently studying how peptide vaccines boost a patient’s immune system.

Boosting the immune system — a therapy called immunotherapy — gives the patient a greater ability to combat mesothelioma.

Her immunotherapy study looks at whether peptide vaccines reduce recurrence (when the mesothelioma comes back) in pleural mesothelioma patients who have undergone either pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) or extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) surgery.

The study is set to finish in 2019.

Getting Specialized Mesothelioma Treatment

Patients can feel confident they’re receiving the most current standard of care because Dr. Anne Tsao is at the forefront of mesothelioma treatment research.

Patients working with Dr. Tsao will quickly learn that she is a kind and compassionate doctor. She takes the time to listen to her patients’ concerns. Her patients can trust that the treatments she suggests are the best options for them because all plans are tailored to the patient’s specific situation.

If you would like more information about working with Dr. Anne Tsao or another pleural mesothelioma specialist, contact the Justice Support Team today.

Call us at (888) 360-4215 or request our Mesothelioma Justice Guide for more helpful information.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Cancer Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.

View 4 Sources
  1. ClinicalTrials.gov. “Pemetrexed Disodium and Cisplatin With or Without Cediranib Maleate in Treating Patients With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.” Retrieved from: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01064648. Accessed July 11, 2018.
  2. MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Anne S. Tsao, MD.” Retrieved from: https://faculty.mdanderson.org/profiles/anne_tsao.html. Accessed July 9, 2018.
  3. Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. “MEET ANNE TSAO, MD.” Retrieved from: http://www.curemeso.org/site/c.duIWJfNQKiL8G/b.8578911/k.FDE9/Meso_and_Asbestos_Research__Science_Advisory_Board__Anne_Tsao_MD.htm. Accessed July 9, 2018.
  4. Vitals. “Dr. Anne S Tsao - Reviews.” Retrieved from: https://www.vitals.com/doctors/Dr_Anne_Tsao.html. Accessed July 9, 2018.
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