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Son of a Mesothelioma Victim Shows Veterans with Mesothelioma How to Get the Right Answers, Right Away

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The West Los Angeles Veterans' Administration Medical Center (West LA VAMC) has taken an important first step to help victims suffering with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), by establishing a Comprehensive Mesothelioma Center at the West LA VAMC.

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"Unfortunately, the center is not on the radar," said Clare Cameron, executive director of The Pacific Meso Center. "There is no mention of the Center on the VA website and many doctors in the VA system aren't clued in as to where to get advice or how to utilize the system.  In the meantime, veterans are being misdiagnosed or needlessly suffering without access to specialized care."

The Comprehensive Mesothelioma Center (CMC) in West Los Angeles is headed by Dr. Robert B. Cameron, MD, FACS. His team includes doctors and nurse practitioners who specialize in the areas of pathology, radiation, pulmonary (lung), oncology (cancer) and anesthesia. All have extensive experience with diagnosing and treating MPM, an asbestos-related cancer affecting the lining of the chest – the pleura.

The Pacific Meso Center (PMC) at the Pacific Heart Lung & Blood Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization, focused on finding better treatments for victims of MPM, has issued a protocol to help mesothelioma sufferers navigate the system and get to the right specialists in time:

Step 1: The patient should inform his or her doctor at his local VA facility about the specialized treatment available at West LA VAMC – the only specialized mesothelioma treatment center in the VA system.

Step 2: Ask the local doctor to contact the West Los Angeles VAMC and request an "inter-facility" consult through the VA's "TeleHealth" program. The person to contact is Almaz Tesfasilase, the cardiothoracic surgery case manager at the West LA VAMC, at (310) 268-4543.

Step 3: Doctors at the CMC will conduct a "virtual consult" by reviewing the patient's medical records and films. They can then assist the local VA doctor with determining the precise diagnosis and recommending a course of treatment.

Step 4: If appropriate, the patient can be referred to the West LA VAMC for specialized treatment. A patient referred to the CMC will have travel expenses paid for by the VA. While in Los Angeles, complimentary lodging will be arranged at the Fisher House, the new West Los Angeles Hotel or a local hotel. The CMC will also arrange for transportation between the hotel and the medical center.

The PMC acknowledges the support of the John Johnson family. John Johnson was a veteran who passed away from mesothelioma in 2012. According to Michael Johnson, "My father might be alive today if he had access to specialists within the VA, but by the time he had heard about Dr. Cameron and his team from friends outside of the VA, it was too late." Johnson's 501(c)(3) non-profit, J.J. Mesothelioma Foundation | Fight Mesothelioma Now!, has a mission to reach out and help mesothelioma sufferers and their families with encouragement and advice, and guide them to the right people at the VA.  See Johnson's step by step video guide.

For further information, please contact:
Clare Cameron – 310-478-4678