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Mesothelioma Lung-Sparing Proponents Increase


A distinguished group of experts in lung-sparing mesothelioma treatment techniques say there is more reason than ever for patients with this deadly cancer to be hopeful.

Robert Cameron, MD, Director of the UCLA Mesothelioma Comprehensive Research Program and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at West Los Angeles VA Medical Center recently led the 3rd annual International Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in Santa Monica. Hosted by UCLA and the Pacific Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the symposium made international news two years ago when its participants declared there was “no place” for extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP – a lung-removing surgery) in the treatment of mesothelioma. Despite its high mortality rate, EPP is still supported by some mesothelioma experts for its ability to improve mesothelioma survival rates in some cases.

But the lung-sparing approach has plenty of proponents. This year’s Symposium included presentations by several of the country’s top mesothelioma authorities, including Joseph Friedberg, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania and Raffit Hassan, MD, of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Friedberg presented research on photodynamic therapy (PDT), which uses light and a sensitizing chemical to find and kill cancer cells. According to the University of Pennsylvania research on PDT, “very encouraging survival results” have been produced by combining surgery and PDT.

Dr. Hassan discussed anti-mesothelin agents for mesothelioma, including the immunotoxin SS1P on which his NCI team has done research. Mesothelin is overexpressed by a number of different cancers, including mesothelioma.

“There were a number of incredibly exciting studies that far exceed what we’ve seen before,” Cameron said in a press release. “All of our collective efforts are finally beginning to pay off in new treatments that truly affect patients.”

Other presentations at the symposium included a discussion of tomotherapy, a slice-by-slice method of delivering radiotherapy following pleurectomy (removal of the diseased lung lining), new surgical techniques for removing mesothelioma tumors, cryoablation for freezing residual cancer cells, and other novel treatment approaches.


“International Mesothelioma Experts Present Promising New Research Findings at the 3rd Annual International Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma”, May 24, 2013, News Release, PR Newswire.
Friedberg, JS, “Photodynamic therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma”, October 1, 2012, Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
Zhang, J, et al, “Loss of mesothelin expression by mesothelioma cells grown in vitro determines sensitivity to anti-mesothelin immunotoxin SS1P”, December 2012, Anticancer Research, pp. 5151-5158.

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