Treatment & Doctors

Mesothelioma Symposium Brings Specialists and Survivors Together

Written By:
Jan. 09, 2019
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Written By: Matt Mauney,
January 9, 2019

Some of the nation’s top mesothelioma specialists are scheduled to share their expertise at the 2019 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma.

The event, organized by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, will be held March 24-27 in Bethesda, Maryland. The three-day symposium consists of two days of conference sessions and an advocacy day March 27.

Mesothelioma patients, caregivers, family members and the bereaved community are invited to attend and learn about the latest treatment options for this rare cancer.

“The symposium is a unique event for mesothelioma patients, their families and caregivers, where they can be face to face with dozens of mesothelioma experts from around the country and the world,” said Maja Belamaric, the director of communications for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.

While learning about treatment options is often a priority for most attendees, Belamaric said the social aspect of the event cannot be understated.

“Even when they no longer need treatment information, attendees come back, year after year, for the community and friendships,” she said.

Notable Lineup of Mesothelioma Experts

This year’s International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma features an impressive lineup of speakers, all bringing their own unique insight into this asbestos-related cancer.

Among the scheduled participants is Dr. Taylor Ripley, who recently took over as the director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He is the successor of renowned thoracic surgeon Dr. David Sugarbaker, who recruited Ripley to Baylor before dying in August 2018.

Three mesothelioma specialists will represent Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center at the symposium. These include Dr. Charles Simone, who is the lead author of a recent study on when to best use chemotherapy for mesothelioma.

Dr. Andrea Wolf, a thoracic surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, is also scheduled to speak. She was the co-author of a 2018 study that highlighted the benefits of the lung-sparing pleurectomy and decortication over the lung-removing extrapleural pneumonectomy.

Speaker Dr. Emanuela Taioli of Mount Sanai led a group of researchers in a December 2017 study that concluded the palliative talc pleurodesis is a viable treatment option for pleural mesothelioma.

“There should be comprehensive conversation with your physician about treatment options, not only about survival, but about quality of life,” Taioli told The Mesothelioma Center at in January 2018.

The lineup features speakers from a range of a disciplines, including Dr. Gideon M. Blumenthal — the deputy director of the Oncology Center of Excellence at the FDA — and Dr. James Pingpank, a peritoneal mesothelioma expert.

Other scheduled speakers include:

  • Dr. Sam Armato, University of Chicago
  • Dr. Raja Flores, Mount Sinai
  • Dr. Patrick Forde, Johns Hopkins
  • Dr. Raghav Kanwal, MD Anderson
  • Dr. Hedy Kindler, University of Chicago
  • Dr. Muaiad Kittaneh, Loyola University
  • Dr. Aaron Mansfield, Mayo Clinic
  • Dr. Brooke Mossman, University of Vermont
  • Dr. Garrett Nash, Memorial Sloan Kettering
  • Dr. Tobias Peikert, Mayo Clinic
  • Dr. Buerkley Rose, University of Chicago
  • Dr. Dan Sterman, NYU Langone
  • Dr. Antoinette Wozniak, University of Pittsburgh
  • Dr. Marjorie Zauderer, Memorial Sloan Kettering

Symposium Presents Unique Opportunity for Survivors

Mesothelioma survivor Bonnie Anderson has attended the symposium in the past and calls the event the “best three days in the company of those who ‘get it.’”

“There is no one word to sum up the symposium,” she said. “Awesome, educational, family, stress relieving.”

With everyone together for the purpose of support, advocacy and education, the symposium presents a unique opportunity for the mesothelioma community.

Anderson said the most useful aspect of the symposium for her and other survivors is discussing all aspects of mesothelioma with doctors and nurses who know about this rare disease.

“It’s realizing you are not alone,” she said. “It’s the most useful, interactive and beneficial meeting of mesothelioma professionals, patients and caregivers.”

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