LOS ANGELES, Dec. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pacific Meso Center (PMC) is urging the US Veterans Administration (VA) to enhance mesothelioma healthcare services at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center (VAMC). Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Nearly one-third of the 3500 Americans diagnosed annually with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos in Navy shipyards or military facilities, making veterans among those most at risk for this cancer.
The campaign to establish a comprehensive meso center at the West LA VA was spearheaded by the family of John Johnson, a former US Marine who lost his battle with mesothelioma in 2012. They believe that if Mr. Johnson had had timely access to specialized care, he might be alive today. The family has pledged substantial funds to help create, publicize and build the program, citing the need to prevent other veterans from receiving substandard care.
The US Government has never fully funded a medical program dedicated to veterans stricken with asbestos cancer. The Comprehensive Meso Center will give veterans access to an early diagnosis, optimal treatments, and leading mesothelioma specialists, including Robert B. Cameron, MD, FACS, who pioneered the innovative lung-sparing surgery for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
While veterans fortunate enough to know about this Center receive an unprecedented high standard of care, the Center itself remains a virtual secret. The Center and its specialized services are not mentioned on the VA's website.
In an online video plea Michael Johnsons Powerful Message to VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald, Michael Johnson, John Johnson's son, said, "We're asking the VA to simply educate doctors and veterans via its website and media promotions so that veterans can learn about resources at this Center. How many veterans have to die to get your attention?"
Supporters of the Comprehensive Meso Center ask that it be called the "Elmo Zumwalt Comprehensive Mesothelioma Treatment & Research Center," in honor of the Navy Admiral who succumbed to mesothelioma. In addition, advocates are petitioning Secretary McDonald for VA funding of $5 million per year to cover the Center's expansion costs. "With adequate financial backing, the Center can provide comprehensive treatment services to an increased numbers of veterans nationwide. Funding also will allow top scientists to conduct clinical trials to benefit veterans diagnosed in the future," said Clare Cameron, Executive Director of the PMC.