Robert Cameron, M.D.
Dr. Robert Cameron is a leading expert pleural mesothelioma treatment and diagnosis. He currently holds several positions in Los Angeles, as a professor, a senior cardiothoracic surgeon and an advisor for the Pacific Mesothelioma Center at the Pacific Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
As a surgeon with more than twenty years experience, Dr. Cameron is a strong proponent of lung-sparing surgical procedures for patients with pleural mesothelioma. In his efforts to make more radical surgeries obsolete, he has innovated a lung-sparing procedure and multimodal approach to managing mesothelioma as a chronic illness.
Education and Early Career
Dr. Cameron earned undergraduate degrees in biology and medieval studies from Stanford University. He attended medical school at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine. After receiving his medical degree from UCLA, Dr. Cameron completed a residency program in general surgery and then an oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute. He also completed a residency in cardiothoracic surgery at the Cornell-New York Hospital. Dr. Cameron’s first professional position was assistant professor of surgery at the University of California San Francisco. He left UCSF after three years to join the faculty at UCLA where he currently works as a board certified thoracic surgeon.
Dr. Cameron holds several positions at The UCLA School of Medicine, including Chief of Thoracic Surgery, Director of General Thoracic Surgery, and Surgical Director of the Thoracic Oncology Program. He is also a science adviser to the Pacific Mesothelioma Center, a division of the Pacific Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated researching new treatments, preventative techniques, and diagnostic tools.
The Pacific Mesothelioma Center is wholly dedicated to mesothelioma research and collaborates with the UCLA Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program and the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Cameron works as the chief of thoracic surgery at the latter. In his current position, Dr. Cameron commonly works with veterans, the most common victims of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. He also leads and conducts research.
Advocating for Lung-Sparing Treatment
The best form of treatment for mesothelioma patients has long been debated by medical professionals. Some surgeons advocate a radical approach that gives a limited few patients a chance at beating the cancer. The procedure is called an extrapleural pneumonectomy and involves removing an entire lung and much of the tissue that surrounds it. This procedure is controversial because it is dangerous and leaves patients with a lower quality of life.
Dr. Cameron strongly advocates a different approach. He prefers less invasive treatment options, using surgery to remove as much of the tumors as possible and then using other medical approaches, such as chemotherapy and radiation, to treat mesothelioma as a chronic illness. Dr. Cameron believes that research evidence proves his approach is as effective and less debilitating than radical extrapleural pneumonectomy.
Dr. Cameron believes so strongly in his approach that he leads an annual symposium about it. The International Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Mesothelioma brings together experts to discuss, teach, and learn about less invasive, novel treatments for mesothelioma that can be used in place of radical surgery.
A Multimodal Approach to Management
While he advocates for the complete cessation of extrapleural pneumonectomy to treat mesothelioma, Dr. Cameron does believe that surgery has a place in a multimodal approach to managing the cancer like a chronic disease. The foundation of his approach is a procedure called pleurectomy/decortication, or P/D. This approach begins with extensive surgery to remove as much of the tumors in the chest cavity as possible. The procedure does not remove an entire lung, although it may remove a piece if the cancer has spread there.
The multimodal approach to treatment then becomes a process of managing the cancer through chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and other more experimental treatments. One reason Dr. Cameron prefers this approach is that it is very difficult to remove all cancer cells and tumors from a mesothelioma patient.
Over the last two decades of his career, Dr. Cameron’s biggest research interests has been the use of P/D as a lung-sparing approach along with other treatments for mesothelioma. His other research interests include immunotherapy treatment for mesothelioma, early diagnostic and screening tests, and heated chemotherapy treatments for pleural mesothelioma.
Professional Organizations and Achievements
Dr. Cameron is a world-renowned expert in mesothelioma and a highly respected surgeon. He belongs to several professional organizations including the Society of Surgical Oncology, the American College of Surgeons, the Western Thoracic Surgical Association. Dr. Cameron also belongs to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Pacific Coast Surgical Association, the American Association for Cancer Research, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, and the International College of Surgeons.
In addition to his professional affiliations, Dr. Cameron holds several prestigious positions. He has served as chairman of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. He has also served on Jonsson’s Cancer Quality Assurance Committee. Dr. Cameron is also the former director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, the first organization devoted entirely to mesothelioma research.
Dr. Cameron is a powerful advocate for mesothelioma patients, dedicating his medical career to this rare cancer. Because of its rarity, mesothelioma has not received extensive research like other more common diseases, but doctors like Dr. Cameron are working to change that. By pushing for lung-sparing treatments and developing multimodal approaches, he has improved the lives of many patients living with mesothelioma.
Page Edited by Dave Foster
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