Thursday, June 16, 2011

International Panel of Medical Specialists Convene for First-Ever Medical Symposium Dedicated to Lung-Sparing Therapies for Patients With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

The UCLA Mesothelioma Research Program, in conjunction with the Pacific Meso Center, held the 1st International Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma on May 21 in Santa Monica, California. The Law Office of Roger Worthington was proud to co-sponsor this first-ever medical seminar focusing on treatment options for patients with pleural mesothelioma.

In recent years, a growing number of the world’s top mesothelioma experts have questioned the value of a radical surgical procedure known as extrapleural pneumonectomy, or EPP, which involves removal of the pleura-based tumor along with the adjacent lung, lymph nodes, portions of the pericardium and the diaphragm. Despite a 60 percent complication rate, the radical surgery continues to be advocated by a number of leading mesothelioma specialists, including Dr. David Sugarbaker of Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

(left - right) Mr. David Waller, MD, Mr. Tom Treasure, MD and
Dr. Robert Cameron, MD
Led by Dr. Robert Cameron, Director of the UCLA Mesothelioma Research Program and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the West Los Angeles Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, a wide range of medical specialists reviewed information from a variety of U.S. centers as well as from the recently concluded Mesothelioma And Radical Surgery (MARS) trial from the U.K. The results of this randomized clinical trial were presented by English surgeons, Tom Treasure and David Waller, and clearly demonstrated that radical removal of the lung through EPP holds no advantage over alternative, less radical, lung-sparing therapies.

In a press release issued by the Pacific Meso Center, where Dr. Cameron serves as Scientific Advisor, he commented that, “The information presented at this Symposium makes an incredibly strong statement that surgical removal of the lung for treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma should no longer be performed anywhere in the world, just like it has been abandoned already in the U.K." Dr. Cameron went on to say that, "Although it's usually hard to get physicians to agree on anything, there was unanimous agreement by the end of the conference that lung-sparing pleurectomy was the preferred surgical procedure if surgery was to be used at all."

The distinguished faculty at this landmark meeting also addressed the role of non-surgical therapies such as cryo and radio frequency ablation, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, gene therapy and promising future therapies. Dr. Cameron and others described how some of these therapies can be used in the model of treating mesothelioma as a chronic disease once the tumor has been removed through lung-sparing surgery.

Terry and Maryla Latham
One such adjuvant therapy that has only recently been utilized for pleural mesothelioma is cryoablation. UCLA Radiologist Dr. Fereidoun Abtin explained that cryoablation is an outpatient procedure in which compressed argon and helium gas is delivered through 3 mm probes inserted into a tumor to essentially freeze the tumor cells. It can be determined in a matter of a few weeks whether the procedure is successful and, because it is an outpatient treatment with a low incidence of pain, it can be performed many times over a relatively short period. UCLA Medical Center is currently the only institute where cryoablation is being used to treat mesothelioma.

The Symposium also featured a touching presentation from Geraldine Lepore about living with mesothelioma from a family’s perspective, as well as an inspirational speech from mesothelioma survivor Terrence Latham who underwent a lung-sparing pleurectomy in 2010 and credits Dr. Cameron for saving his life.

The Pacific Meso Center plans to release videos of many of the Symposium presentations on its website in the coming weeks