The Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC)…
…is a division of The Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit medical research institute established in 2002 with the mission of improving the lives of mesothelioma patients through educational outreach on lung-sparing treatments for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) and innovative research into new treatments, and someday a cure, for MPM.
Under the direction of Scientific Advisor, Dr. Robert B. Cameron, director of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA Medical Center and the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, PMC conducts independent research at its first-of-its-kind in-house laboratory in Los Angeles.
The Importance of Involving a Mesothelioma Specialist in the Treatment of MPM
MPM is a rare cancer which affects less than 3,000 people per year in the United States. Many oncologists and pulmonologists see few if any cases of mesothelioma in their careers. In addition to its rarity, MPM, which often presents as a thin sheet-like tumor surrounding the lung, poses many unique challenges when it comes to treatment.
For these reasons it is crucially important that patients diagnosed with MPM seek treatment, or at least a second opinion, from a mesothelioma specialist. A mesothelioma specialist is a doctor, typically a thoracic surgeon or oncologist, who has treated over one hundred MPM patients and published articles on MPM. That is why here at Pacific Mesothelioma Centre our focus has remained for our specialists to not only educate patients on all Mesothelioma treatments as well as the next steps on all diagnosis, but play their part to ensure an effective treatment.
A mesothelioma specialist will have specialized knowledge regarding diagnostic testing to determine important details such as the precise cell-type, staging, and location of the tumor. A specialist will also have the most up to date knowledge about available mesothelioma treatments and the experience to recommend the best treatments given the specific attributes of a patient’s tumor.
Seeing a mesothelioma specialist as early as possible after diagnosis can avoid lengthy delays in selecting a treatment or, worse yet, months spent pursuing sub-optimal treatments which are ineffective in halting tumor progression and metastasis rendering the patient ineligible for more effective treatments.
PMC Nurse Lien Hua-Feng works directly with MPM patients, family members, or local treating doctors to arrange consultations with mesothelioma specialist and thoracic surgeon, Dr. Robert B. Cameron, and his team.
Surgery, Radiation, Chemotherapy, and recently Immunotherapy are considered to be frontline treatments for MPM. But which is best for you?
Nassem Farag was diagnosed in 2010 and was told he had six months to live. He went for a second opinion to Dr. Robert B. Cameron who performed a pleurectomy decortication (P/D) on him in 2010. Twelve years later he is still doing well.
Oncologist or Thoracic Surgeon or Both?
Oncologists are doctors which administer “systemic,” or non-surgical treatments for cancer. Not surprisingly, oncologists typically recommend systemic chemotherapy or immunotherapy for patients diagnosed with MPM. Oncologists often make this recommendation believing that surgery is not an option, because the tumor is “non-resectable,” or that it is advisable to receive chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy before having surgery.
Systemic treatments for MPM are typically administered once every three weeks and a minimum of three rounds are completed before a CT scan is done to determine whether the treatment is impacting tumor growth. Because the response rates of chemotherapy and immunotherapy are less than 50%, most MPM patients will experience tumor growth in the nine-plus weeks it takes to complete the initial course of systemic treatments. For some patients, the amount of tumor growth and sometimes metastasis that occurs in this time renders a previously resectable tumor non-resectable.
A thoracic surgeon who is also a mesothelioma treatment specialist, not an oncologist, is the best person to assess, first, whether an MPM tumor is resectable and, second, whether it is advisable to receive a systemic treatment before surgery.
In other words, in order for a patient to make a truly informed decision about treatment for MPM, it is essential that a thoracic surgeon mesothelioma specialist be involved in the assessment of available mesothelioma treatment options and the determination of which option is best given the specific attributes of a patient’s tumor.
Again, PMC Nurse Lien Hua-Feng is standing by to arrange consultations with thoracic surgeon mesothelioma specialist, Dr. Robert B. Cameron, and his team which includes oncologist mesothelioma specialist, Dr. Olga Olevsky, and radiation oncologist mesothelioma specialist Dr. Fereidoun Abtin.
Of course, you want an honest and qualified assessment of your best options for long-term survival of MPM. Who is qualified to answer your questions?
The Pacific Meso Center:
Can answer all your questions.
Will make you aware of all your choices.
Will help explore your treatment options and assist you in finding the best treatment ‘Team’ for you.