UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles
The Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is recognized by the National Cancer Institute as a cancer research and treatment facility of excellence. The U.S. News and World Report ranking of hospitals and medical centers regularly lists Jonsson as one of the top in the country, and often as the best in the western U.S.
As part of the University of California system, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center is both a treatment facility for cancer patients and an educational institute for interns, residents, and fellows in oncology and other specialties. The Center is staffed by a variety of specialists, including oncologists and surgeons who are experts in diagnosing and treating lung cancer and mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure.
About the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
There are currently more than 450 scientists, physicians, and surgeons working at Jonsson, as researchers, clinicians, and educators, with many serving in more than one of these roles. These dedicated professionals meet with more than 20,000 patients every year, many seeking treatment and care that they could not find elsewhere. The mission at the Cancer Center is to research cancers with the direct goal of using discoveries to develop better treatments, diagnostics, and prevention.
The history of the Cancer Center goes back to the late 1960s when scientists at UCLA, as well as other interested individuals, came together with the goal of establishing a center for cancer research and treatment. They wanted to create a facility that would excel in several important areas: treating and caring for patients, research, and education. The Center was officially established in 1974 and became an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1976. The name of the Center comes from Kenneth Alan Jonsson and his wife Diana, philanthropists who gifted $1 million to get the facility opened.
An NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center
The Jonsson Cancer Center received the designation of being a Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1976. The National Cancer Institute has only given 47 facilities this designation, and earing it requires demonstrating high standards and excellence in research, cancer prevention, patient care, and education. The designation is one that not all cancer treatment facilities receives, and tells patients that they can expect excellent and innovative care and treatment.
Dr. Robert Cameron
Patients who receive care at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center benefit from a number of experts and specialists. This includes the guidance of one of the world’s leading experts in mesothelioma. Dr. Robert Cameron holds many leadership roles at the Pacific Mesothelioma Center and UCLA, including as Chairman of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is a thoracic surgeon specializing in mesothelioma. In addition to treating patients, he has been instrumental in developing the pleurectomy/decortication procedure that is a lung-sparing surgical treatment for mesothelioma patients.
Lung Cancer Program at Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Jonsson is home to the world-renowned Lung Cancer Program, which includes cutting edge treatment for lung cancer and other thoracic cancers, including mesothelioma. Here patients with mesothelioma can benefit from the multi-disciplinary teams of experts, including Dr. Cameron, who come together to collaborate on treatment plans for patients. The Lung Cancer Program is also involved in research that helps to develop better treatments and preventative measures for lung and related cancers.
Partnership with the Pacific Mesothelioma Center
The Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center is located in an area that is rich with resources for cancer research and treatment. The Center’s ability to give patients excellent care is extended by its partnership with many of these other facilities, including the Pacific Mesothelioma Center, a part of the Pacific Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
The Pacific Mesothelioma Center is led by Dr. Cameron and is dedicated solely to the research and treatment of this type of cancer. The ultimate goal of the Center is to find a cure for mesothelioma or to develop effective treatments that allow it to be managed as a chronic condition. By collaborating with this innovative facility, Jonsson is able to provide patients with even better, more innovative treatments.
Treatment for Mesothelioma Patients
Treatment for all patients at Jonsson begins with a holistic approach, in which the whole patient is treated and medical treatments are supplemented with supportive and wellness care. Mesothelioma patients are assessed by a multi-disciplinary team of experts including oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, and others. This team comes up with the best plan for each individual patient, which often includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and any other innovative treatments that may help.
Supportive care for mesothelioma patients include pain management, alternative and complementary medicine, nutritional counseling, planning for advanced and palliative care, psychological care, and physical appearance. Treatment may also include enrollment in an ongoing clinical trial, allowing patients to benefit from new treatments not yet available to the public.
Cancer research and clinical trials make up an important part of the activities of the experts at Jonsson. The facility is devoted to treating patients, but also to researching the cancers that afflict those patients so they can be given better care. A major area of cancer study here is targeted therapies, which involves developing drugs that target specific proteins or genes to help kill cancer cells and slow or stop tumor growth.
Jonsson researchers have been instrumental in developing a number of important therapies. These include Herceptin, a breast cancer drug that was the first cancer drug approved that works by targeting the genetics of cancer cells. Another important development has been especially hopeful for mesothelioma patients. Researchers at Jonsson developed Keytruda, an immunotherapy drug that is showing great promise in treating a number of cancer types, including mesothelioma and non-small cell lung cancer.
Researchers at Jonsson also lead and conduct clinical trials to test these new drugs and other treatment strategies. As an example, one ongoing clinical trial at the Cancer Center is testing the use of a special type of radiation therapy for mesothelioma patients before undergoing pleurectomy/decortication surgery.
The Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center is truly a facility that provides comprehensive care for both mesothelioma patients and other cancer patients. With a combination of research, education, prevention, and treatment, the Center is taking steps to advance our knowledge of mesothelioma and to reduce suffering while extending patients’ lives.
Page edited by Dave Foster
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