- Specialty Pleural Mesothelioma
- Procedure Pleurectomy with Decortication (P/D)
- West Los Angeles VA Medical Center 11301 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90073
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Dr. Robert B. Cameron is one of the leading experts on pleural mesothelioma and is the Scientific Advisor for The Pacific Mesothelioma Center. Having founded UCLA’s reputed mesothelioma program, Dr. Cameron remains an active director today.
He has been treating patients for over 20 years and is credited with inventing the pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) surgery that is now widely used to treat pleural mesothelioma.
P/D is a lung-saving surgical procedure for pleural mesothelioma patients, where the lining of the affected lung is removed yet the lung itself remains intact.
As a board-certified general surgeon and cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Cameron has been involved in various studies for the National Cancer Institute, Stanford University School of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine, and the UCSF School of Medicine.
Dr. Cameron is a co-founder and former director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, the first medical research foundation (and the only non-profit organization) committed to the diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. Today, the charity has been awarded a total of $10 million in grant funding, plus a further $15.1 million from the Department of Defence to aid research into mesothelioma.
Dr. Cameron travels extensively throughout the U.S. to teach surgeons how to manage mesothelioma.
“Pleural mesothelioma is a very unusual and even rare cancer. It only occurs in approximately 2,000 to 3,000 people each year in the United States. The actual true number though is not really known, because it’s not really being tracked.”
– Dr. Robert Cameron
His research has been published in a variety of scientific research papers as well as academic books related to cancer treatment of the lungs. He is also the editor of Practical Oncology, an academic journal.
Dr. Cameron is also known for his willingness to share his opinion and challenge existing protocols for mesothelioma treatment when patients’ well-being may be at stake. He is a talented thoracic surgeon with a wide range of medical interests, including numerous thoracic cancers, robotic surgery, lung transplants, and chest malignancies.
Dr. Cameron first studied biology and medieval studies at Sanford University in 1976.
In 1980, he attended medical school at the University of Michigan and UCLA, where he was elected to early membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society (a high-achieving group committed to preserving the ideals of medicine) after his second year.
Upon graduating in the top 4% of his class, Dr. Cameron completed a one-year internship in surgery at UCLA School of Medicine before deciding to stay on for a five-year residency in general surgery.
Meanwhile, Dr. Cameron fulfilled this fellowship at the National Cancer Institute, which ignited his passion for finding a cure for rare types of cancer.
Following his UCLA residency, Dr. Cameron traveled to New York to begin a two-year fellowship in Thoracic Surgery at Cornell University Medical Center.
In September 1994, Dr. Cameron became Chief of Thoracic Surgery at UCSF in San Francisco, transferring to the same role at UCLA in 1997.
Dr. Cameron is now Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Surgical Oncology at UCLA and Pacific Thoracic Surgery Associates, as well as Chief Thoracic Surgeon at West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.
Dr. Cameron is also Director of UCLA’s Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program, which he initially founded. The program uses his P/D procedure in conjunction with post-operative therapies, treating mesothelioma as a chronic condition. Dr. Cameron’s mesothelioma program strives to extend patients’ survival rates while maintaining a strong emphasis on quality of life.
“The most important recommendation to make [to mesothelioma patients], is that you should be seen at a mesothelioma center of excellence. That is a center that generally sees a lot of these patients on an annual basis,” said Dr. Cameron. “One of the unfortunate fallouts from the approval of effective chemotherapy for this tumor was that now any local oncologist can give chemotherapy for this disease when in the past they had nothing to really offer. Patients in the past were often referred to bigger centers that have experience but now, the first thing they hear, is that they should just receive chemotherapy.”
Dr. Cameron is credited with the invention of the P/D surgical procedure for mesothelioma — a lung-sparing curative surgery for pleural mesothelioma.
The procedure takes place in two parts and can last for a total of 5 hours:
The P/D procedure was revolutionary, as it meant that the surgeon did not have to remove the lung to remove the cancerous cells — unlike the standard surgical procedure until then known as the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP).
Not all patients are eligible to receive a P/D. But in a study of 100 patients, P/D successfully eased chest pain, coughs, and shortness of breath while treating the pleural masses.
To be eligible, a patient must be in the early stages of pleural mesothelioma and fit enough to undergo the stress of surgery.
Dr. Cameron is the best surgeon when it comes to performing the lung-sparing P/D procedure, and uses emerging technologies such as immunotherapy — a novel treatment that boosts the patient’s immune system — to treat his patients.
In a 2013 study undertaken by a group of medical professionals, Dr. Cameron and his fellow surgeons looked at the morbidity and mortality rate for P/D and EPP treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
A total of 225 patients underwent the procedures, and the results showed that there was a higher rate of morbidity and mortality associated with the EPP, compared with Dr. Cameron’s P/D method.
In addition to lung-sparing surgery, Dr. Cameron also specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques. His interest in minimally invasive and robotic thoracic surgery is something that was quite ahead of its time when he began his residency.
Today, medical technologies have advanced to the point where more and more procedures can be carried out via incision surgeries, which is something Dr. Cameron has always supported to minimize the risks and recovery for patients.
Dr. Cameron is one of the country’s top specialists of pleural mesothelioma — a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure that affects the pleural lining (tissue covering) of the lung and chest wall. Pleural mesothelioma is one of the toughest forms of cancer to treat and therefore requires highly specialized care.
Dr. Cameron’s P/D method works by debulking the tumor — when the tumor is never completely removed, but the surgeon will destroy as much of the cancer as possible.
Like other renowned mesothelioma specialists, Dr. Cameron’s philosophy is that once mesothelioma has been resected (surgically removed), pleural mesothelioma can be managed as a chronic disease, much like diabetes.
Dr. Cameron believes that it’s not possible to completely cure pleural mesothelioma, but it is controllable.
His goal is to control the disease by removing as much as possible through surgery and then minimizing the remaining tumors through chemotherapy and radiation.
Dr. Cameron believes in maintenance therapy for pleural mesothelioma — an ongoing, daily medication to control the remaining mesothelioma cells and keep them at bay.
His studies have proven that this method can work successfully for many years, and the patient can continue to live a relatively healthy life.
There is ongoing controversy over how pleural mesothelioma should be treated. But compared to more radical surgeries such as an EPP, the P/D is accepted by many specialists as the most appropriate and risk-aversive procedure for patients.
Dr. Cameron has been chief of thoracic surgery at the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center since 1998 and is responsible for all aspects of thoracic surgical care and delivery.
The medical facility is the largest center in the VA care system and is affiliated with the UCLA School of Medicine.
Under Dr. Robert Cameron’s leadership, it rivals many of the nation’s top private hospitals for specialized mesothelioma treatment.
Dr. Cameron is reputed as one of the best mesothelioma doctors in the world. His treatment has drastically altered and improved the lives of many of his patients through his debulking and controlling methods of treatment.
Through a variety of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and ongoing daily medication, Dr. Cameron has succeeded in managing the risks associated with pleural mesothelioma and helping patients to control the disease.
If you would like to work with Dr. Robert B. Cameron, contact us today to learn about how to get a referral to the top mesothelioma specialists in North America.
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