Upcoming Mesothelioma Symposium Filled with Hope

Mesothelioma cells

Thoracic surgeon Dr. Robert Cameron remembers well — it wasn’t that long ago — when a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma cancer automatically came with a gloom-and-doom tone.

Those days are gone.

His 7th annual International Symposium on Mesothelioma at UCLA on Sept. 30 will accentuate the substantial recent progress.

“Over the past five years, we’ve seen unprecedented advances in mesothelioma research that we never would have predicted a decade ago,” said Cameron, chief of thoracic surgery at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. “And our intensive collaboration today between laboratory and clinical scientists is yielding new insight into promising future treatment.”

Cameron, a pioneer in mesothelioma surgical treatment, will serve as the symposium chair of the upcoming event, which presents medical professionals, patients and families an opportunity to learn more about the latest advances and the hope that has emerged.

Mesothelioma Experts from Around the World

Cameron, who is also director of the UCLA Mesothelioma Comprehensive Research Program, will be one of several experts speaking at the daylong event.

The lineup of mesothelioma experts and topics includes:

  • Robert Cameron: “Surgery for Mesothelioma: Is There a Future?”
  • Clinical professor Dr. Olga Olevsky of the UCLA School of Medicine: “Intracavitary Therapeutics for Pleural Mesothelioma.”
  • Thoracic surgeon Dr. Jacques Fontaine of the Moffitt Cancer Center: “Transarterial Chemoperfusion.”
  • Luana Calabro of Italy’s Center at the University Hospital of Siena: “Immune Checkpoint Blockade in Malignant Mesothelioma.”
  • Medical oncologist Dr. Anna Nowak of the University of Western Australia: “Combining Angiogenesis Inhibition with Chemotherapy — Who, How and What’s Next?”
  • Hanning Yang of the University of Hawaii Cancer Cancer: “Mesothelioma and BAP1.”
  • Pathologist Dr. Brian Cunniff of the University of Vermont College of Medicine: “The Potato in the Tailpipe. Disabling Mitochondrial Peroxide Metabolism as an Effective Therapeutic Approach.”
  • Senior investigator Dr. David Schrump of the National Cancer Institute: “Targeting the Epigenome in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.”
  • Biochemist Arti Shukia of India’s Banaras Hindu University: “Inflammasome Modulation by Chemotherapeutics in Mesothelioma: Is This a Possibility?”

Discussions About Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma

Cameron also will speak about engineering mesenchymal stem cells for immunotherapy.

Clare Cameron, who is the executive director of the Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC) and not related to Dr. Robert Cameron, will talk about resources for research. Lein Hua-Feng, a nurse practitioner at PMC, will discuss the benefits of caregiver support groups.

“The symposium will provide an unrivaled opportunity for both the medically savvy and general public, including mesothelioma patients,” Clare Cameron said. “You’ll hear about the most promising medical advances, and promising new research.”

The symposium arrives on the heels of an anonymous $1 million donation to the PMC, where Dr. Cameron serves as scientific advisor.

The grant will be used to support a molecular biologist and an immunologist working on potential immunotherapies for mesothelioma.

Immunotherapy, which has shown effectiveness in other cancers, involves enhancing a patient’s own immune system to fight off the cancer cells. The treatment, which isn’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for mesothelioma, is available only through clinical trials and with special access exceptions.

Cameron believes, though, that future treatment advances will involve a combination of different emerging immunotherapies, along with traditional treatment such as surgery and chemotherapy.

“For the first time ever, we are seeing real benefits of immunotherapy for mesothelioma,” he said. “I believe it holds great promise for finally improving the survival of patients with this formally fatal disease.”


Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers.

  1. UCLA Office of Continuing Medical Education (2017, August 27). 7th International Symposium on Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Retrieved from https://www.cme.ucla.edu/courses/event-description?registration_id=179775

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