UCLA Surgeon Recommends Sparing the Lung When Treating Mesothelioma Patients
Even though Dr. Robert Cameron is the innovator of the lung-sparing pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) surgical procedure for mesothelioma patients, he still believes it is the right approach when undertaking treatment on a mesothelioma patient. Cameron says that the P/D approach provides the patient with the best possible quality of life, and follows his philosophy to ‘do no harm,’ of which he believes removing a mesothelioma patient’s lung does harm and does not provide any benefit to the patient.
Mesothelioma, an unusual form of cancer caused by exposure to airborne asbestos fibers, often has a complex growth pattern making complete surgical removal a very difficult task. The goal of the surgery is to achieve a macroscopically-complete resection, which refers to the removal of all visible tumor cells. Cameron describes mesothelioma as “a sheet of cancer cells which virtually cover every organ and surface inside the chest.” This formation prevents a surgeon from being able to remove the disease in its entirety.
The alternative to P/D is the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) which is a radical and complex surgery that features the removal of the affected lung and parietal pleura, as well as the possible removal of the diaphragm, the pericardium and other extrapleural tissue. Cameron believes that with the EPP “the lung is an innocent bystander underneath the tumor, but is removed along with the tumor.”
Cameron says “P/D is the best surgical option with the least side effects, the least chance of dying and a better chance of getting as much tumor clearance as possible.”
Director of Thoracic Oncology at the Department of Surgery, UCLA Medical Center, Cameron has performed the P/D procedure on over 300 patients. The surgery is part of his multi-modal treatment approach which is typically followed by radiation, immunotherapy agents and chemotherapy.