UCLA Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program
10780 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 100, Los Angeles, CA 90025
To make an appointment with Dr. Cameron, call Martha Martinez at (310) 470 – 8980.
UCLA is the home of the Pacific Mesothelioma Center’s (PMC) Scientific Advisor, Dr. Robert B. Cameron, who is the Director of the UCLA Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program and Senior Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Cameron and the UCLA mesothelioma physicians are able to significantly benefit patients with this rare and difficult cancer through meticulous lung-sparing surgery and an innovative approach to follow-up care.
Participating Physician, Surgery: Dr. Robert B. Cameron has been treating mesothelioma patients for over 20 years. He is recognized world-wide as a pioneer in the field of mesothelioma and long-time advocate of the innovative lung-sparing Pleurectomy/Decortication (P/D) surgical procedure for mesothelioma and has performed the procedure on hundreds of patients to date. Dr. Cameron has one philosophy to the P/D surgery, “Do no harm” to the lung.
UCLA’s Surgical Approach to Mesothelioma
UCLA surgeons perform an exacting surgery to remove the visible tumor in patients, leaving behind as little cancer as possible to allow for better management with other therapies. The pleurectomy and decortication procedure (P/D) preserves the lung, in contrast to the more radical extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) performed at many other centers. Leaving the lung intact helps improve the patient’s postoperative quality of life. Surgery also offers a unique opportunity for additional therapies to be used while the affected area is exposed. One such treatment uses an interleukin 4 (IL-4) toxin. Mesothelioma cells have an unusually high number of IL-4 receptors, so the treatment is effective at selectively targeting the cancer cells.
Following surgery, patients undergo radiation therapy to deliver high doses of ionizing radiation with extreme precision in order to spare nearby normal tissue, including the lung. This highly unusual type of radiation delivery is an area of specialization in UCLA’s Department of Radiation Oncology.
Participating Physician, Radiation Oncology: Dr. Percy Lee is an Associate Clinical Professor in Radiation Oncology at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and an expert in lung cancer. He is also the Clinical Director of the Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) Program at UCLA where highly focused and intensified doses of radiation therapy are given precisely, in a few treatments, with excellent tumor control and minimal side effects.
Postoperative Mesothelioma Care
One of the principles guiding postoperative mesothelioma care at UCLA is that of treating it as a chronic disease, similar to diabetes or hypertension. While UCLA is not able to cure the patient, maintenance care is provided that slows progression while maximizing quality of life.
This treatment approach was first developed by Dr. Cameron and leads UCLA physicians, for instance, to avoid routinely recommending chemotherapy for these patients. They find that the few, highly toxic treatments of chemotherapy frequently are not effective in managing the constant growth of cancer cells in mesothelioma. UCLA physicians prefer other approaches such as low-dose interferon alpha, which can be kept at steady daily levels in the patient’s system to constantly inhibit tumor cell re-growth without producing many side effects.
When tumors do grow back after surgery, UCLA physicians have been highly successful in treating them with cryoblation. Cryoblation is performed as an outpatient procedure that typically takes about four hours; the treatment destroys mesothelioma cells by freezing them. It has been effective and is well-tolerated by patients, with few side effects.
Participating Physician, Radiology: Dr. Fereidoun Abtin is the Associate Professor of Radiology at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Dr. Abtin’s interests principally lie in management of lung cancer and chest neoplasms, including mesothelioma. He focuses on the use of non-surgical, minimally-invasive imaging guided heat (Radiofrequency or Microwave ablation) and Cryoblation (ice) techniques in management of cancer.
About 15 percent of mesothelioma cases are of the sarcomatoid type, which tends to be both invasive and metastatic. As a rule, surgeons will not operate on these patients as the cancer is difficult to remove and the patients have not typically fared well with any treatment. UCLA physicians have developed a unique approach of preoperatively treating sarcomatoid mesothelioma patients with intensive chemotherapy using agents typically used to treat primary sarcomas rather than the usual mesothelioma chemotherapy agents.
Participating Physician, Medical Oncology: Dr. Olga Olevsky is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology.
*Majority of information and photo supplied by UCLA Health System.