This year the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation is having three conferences “on the road.” The first of the series was held in Houston, Texas on May 20. I have had the pleasure of attending a few Meso Foundation conferences over the past years, and it is my impression that each one is better than the one before. This conference did not disappoint.
Houston is home to two cancer centers with mesothelioma specialty centers: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. Anderson’s mesothelioma program is headed by Dr. Anne Tsao, a medical oncologist, and Dr. David Rice, thoracic surgeon. Baylor’s mesothelioma program is headed by Dr. David Sugarbaker, an international expert on mesothelioma.
The mesothelioma community at these conferences is represented by patients, family members, caregivers, medical experts, health care workers, advocates, and members of the legal community. Attendees can watch presentations by researchers on their latest findings, they can ask questions of the experts, and they can network and meet others who are also dealing with mesothelioma.
My takeaways from the Houston conference include:
- Clinical Trials are showing the way to a personalized approach to treating mesothelioma.
- The goal is to get to a point that mesothelioma is a manageable, chronic disease.
- This spring has brought breakthroughs for the future treatment of mesothelioma.
- The feeling among the researchers was that they are progressing towards a cure.
- Some studies have shown promising results for the four subtypes of mesothelioma.
Nationwide, the number of cancer patients who participate in clinical trials is between 3-5% for adults. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation reports that mesothelioma patients consistently reach out to them to ask about clinical trials, and the number who participate in mesothelioma trials is over 55%. This is one of the tangible, impressive services that the Meso Foundation provides for the mesothelioma community.
The doctors who presented were passionate about helping patients with mesothelioma. It was evident that the next generation of researchers who presented have the passion to continue the work towards a cure.
Collaboration, research, clinical trials, awareness, advocacy, are the keys to further progress towards a cure. Patients and families were encouraged to get involved and to request more money for research for this cancer from the government and other sources.
The next two conferences for mesothelioma are being held in San Francisco on September 16, and in Chicago on October 7. Get involved- knowledge is power!