Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM)
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare and devastating cancer that affects the lining of the chest. Nearly 3,000 new cases of this “orphan disease” are diagnosed annually in the United States. The disease is usually caused by exposure to asbestos in the workplace, home, or areas with natural asbestos deposits. It often manifests 15 to 60 years after asbestos exposure.
Nearly one-third of all patients with MPM develop the disease through inhaling asbestos fibers during their military service and many times following their service while continuing to work in the same trades learned while serving. This risk also extends to Veterans families since the dangerous fibers often were brought home on clothing, exposing spouses and children to the same deadly problem. Despite this significant Veteran health problem, which has existed since World War II, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD) have yet to provide specific treatment or research resources for Veterans who have, are suspected of having, or are at risk of having mesothelioma.
Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC)
The Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC) at The Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (PHLBI), a 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization, was established in 2010 and remains the only public charity to promote organized mesothelioma research into novel therapies and methods of cancer prevention for asbestos-exposed individuals.
In 2011, PMC launched the first free-standing national mesothelioma research laboratory with the expressed mission to discover novel treatments and ultimately a cure for mesothelioma. The PMC is associated with world renowned mesothelioma programs, such as UCLA’s Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program, which is led by Dr. Robert B. Cameron, an internationally recognized surgeon and research scientist, who is widely recognized for his groundbreaking lung-sparing surgical technique to extend patients’ lifespans without sacrificing vital lung tissue.
Adm. Elmo Zumwalt
Since its inception, PMC has tirelessly worked to join forces with the Veterans Health Administration to create a Comprehensive Mesothelioma Center of Excellence at the Greater Los Angeles (GLA) VA. The GLA VA Meso Center, to be named after Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, who was an inspirational leader to many naval service men and women and who lost his life to mesothelioma, will be established to provide specialized care for Veterans who have, are suspected of having, or are at risk of having mesothelioma.
The new Elmo Zumwalt (EZ) Comprehensive Mesothelioma Center will offer the latest innovations in diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, radiology oncology, surgery, and other medical specializations for Veterans nationwide and will work with the UCLA Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program, the Pacific Mesothelioma Center, and the Cancer Research and Biostatistics (CRAB) non-profit foundation to establish a Mesothelioma Research Consortium to actively conduct both clinical and basic science research in this disease. The EZ Mesothelioma Center will utilize TeleHealth/TeleMedicine initiatives for remote computerized medical consultations already active within the VHA system to ensure that all Veterans, not just those in Southern California will have access to state-of-the-art mesothelioma medical care as well as social/financial support services.
PMC is proud to lead the effort to secure urgent specific programmatic support for Veterans who contracted mesothelioma because of their military service. PMC is joined in this effort by Veterans, themselves, and their families, including many whose care could have benefited from such a specialized national center. Some have volunteered to help and some have even made donations to help this effort go forward. PMC now is seeking to work with Veterans service organization, like the American Legion, to educate Veterans as to the services already available and to work together with Veterans and the VHA to make the EZ Comprehensive Mesothelioma Center a reality for current and future Veterans who so faithfully served their country only to develop this dangerous disease.
Donations to PMC are tax deductible and help to support continued biomedical research and education for patients with mesothelioma.