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Dr. Robert Cameron

Dr. Robert Cameron takes cancer very personally. Throughout is life, he watched his father, an uncle, his grandmother, both grandfathers and two cousins die from various forms of the disease. Cameron, a cardiothoracic surgeon and surgical oncologist at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, is taking on asbestos cancer as a personal mission. He wants to help patients live happier, more comfortable lives and eradicate the disease in the process.

Cameron is a vocal opponent of lung removal in asbestos-cancer patients. He said the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) is such a radical surgery that it should be avoided. He prefers the less drastic pleurectomy, which is aimed at removing the mesothelioma tumors but saving the diseased lung. Cameron has been treating asbestos cancer patients for more than two decades and is the innovator of the lung-sparing technique. Today, Cameron is the director of Thoracic Surgery at UCLA and a scientific advisor for the Pacific Meso Center, a mesothelioma research center in California. He is also the chief of thoracic surgery at the Veterans’ Administration Medical Center in west Los Angeles.

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What is Dr. Cameron’s Specialty?

Cameron’s primary focus in helping asbestos-disease patients is through minimally invasive techniques and robotic thoracic surgery. He is known to use the most advanced surgical practices, including thorascopic and lasers. He is also passionate about lung-sparing surgeries.

While he realizes that some of his colleagues say the EPP should be standard for many pleural mesothelioma patients as a life-saving technique, he continues his lobby against the procedure. He has said in major medical symposiums that the EPP should no longer be performed worldwide. He said the surgery harms the patient and “makes no sense from an oncology standpoint.

Cameron is known for his no-nonsense viewpoints and approach to patient care. When he talks to his patients about the disease, he won’t talk about a cure because there is none. He said asbestos cancer should be treated as a chronic illness, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Instead, he focuses on pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) surgery as a main treatment. This is followed by radiation and long-term maintenance using immunotherapy. In P/D surgery, the physician removes all visible chest tumors instead of removing the damaged lung. Radiation treatment is used to kill the remaining cancer cells and daily self-administered immunotherapy injections are used to prevent the remaining cells from developing into tumors.

Dr. Cameron’s Background

Cameron graduated from the UCLA medical school nearly 30 years ago. He studied oncology at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. He is the co-founder and former director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, a research group. He has authored or co-authored dozens of papers on subjects that include thoracic surgery and oncology and has submitted many papers for peer-reviewed journals. He is also an associate professor of surgery at UCLA and serves on the UCLA- Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Thoracic Tumor Board.

Cameron is certified in several medical boards including the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the International Society for Biologic Therapy of Cancer, the American Association for Cancer Research and the International College of Surgeons.


Pacific Heart Lung & Blood Institute. Dr. Cameron. Retrieved from http://www.phlbi.org/about/scientificadvisoryboard/dr-cameron/

UCLA Health. Robert Cameron, MD. Retrieved from http://www.uclahealth.org/body.cfm?xyzpdqabc=0&id=479&action=detail