Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Greatest Escape; 2nd Annual Motorcycle Ride to Benefit Victims of Mesothelioma

Proudly Presented by Worthington & Caron, P.C.

Join us and the Pacific Meso Center on a beautiful motorcycle ride along the California coast this Sunday, August 3.

After the ride, join us for a lunch, concert and additional fun at The Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, California. There will be celebrity riders including our Grand Marshall, Perry King!

Registration begins at: 8:30 AM and the Ride promptly begins at: 10:00 AM. The lunch will be provided by J Wolf Catering & Concert begins and the digging in begins at 12:30 PM

Be sure to stay and enjoy the music of The Walking Phoenixes-a Johnny Cash Tribute Band.

Click here for all the details.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

University of Pennsylvania's Mesothelioma Program Receives $8 Million Grant from NCI

The National Cancer Institute awarded an $8 million grant to the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine to study the effects of photodynamic light therapy (PDT) in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The grant  will fund a clinical trial and additional studies looking at the effects of PDT on the patient’s immune response, the mesothelioma tumor cell , and the blood vessels surrounding the tumor.

Dr. Eli Glatstein is the principal investigator of the program. He is also the professor and vice chair of Radiation Oncology, and member of Penn’s Mesothelioma and Pleural Program. According to Dr. Glatstein,  “This trial represents a major step in understanding the combination of treatment modalities that will offer patients the best hope for survival and extended remission.”

The study expects to enroll 102 patients over four years.  Patient will be administered Photofrin, a photosensitizing agent that makes cancer cells more sensitive to dying from light therapy, 24 hours prior to surgery.

The patients will then undergo a radical pleurectomy.  The patents will then be divided into two groups: half will receive PDT intraoperatively via an intense laser inserted in the chest cavity during the surgery, along with post-operative standard chemotherapy; and half who will receive only post-operative chemotherapy. Photofrin absorbs the light from the laser and produces an active form of oxygen that can destroy residual microscopic cancer cells left behind after surgery.

“PDT has been a part of our treatment regimen along with a lung-sparing surgery for many years, but a randomized clinical trial such as this remains necessary to prove its efficacy,” says Glatstein.

PDT is known to kill cancer cells, but researchers also seek to understand the patient’s immune response, the tumor microenvironment and the blood vessels in and surrounding the tumor in three additional studies funded under the grant.

“This trial will help us understand how PDT works in the body and what we may be able to do in the future to improve the body’s response to the therapy,” says Glatstein.

Click here for more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Penn Medicine Receives $10 million Award to Study Asbestos Adverse Health Effects and Remediation of Asbestos

The BioRit Asbestos Superfund site is located in Ambler, Pennsylvania.  Ambler is 20 miles north of Philadelphia.

From the late 1880s through the present day, Ambler residents have had either occupational or environmental exposure to asbestos. As a result, both current and former residents of the area face potentially serious long-term health consequences.

The Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) is an organization whose mission is to effectively translate environmental health sciences research findings into practical health promotion, disease prevention information, tools and resources for our target audiences.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, with the aid of the COEC, has determined that there has been an increase in the rate of mesothelioma in the Ambler area compared to the adjacent zip codes, with women having a greater risk than men.

Researchers at the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET), Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, have been awarded a $10 million grant from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) over the next four years to study asbestos exposure pathways that lead to mesothelioma, the bioremediation of this hazardous material, and mechanisms that lead to asbestos-related diseases.

The Penn Superfund Research and Training Program (SRP) Center, which was established by this grant, evolved as a direct consequence of concerns from the Ambler community. The researchers are hopeful that continued investigation and education will yield more information about exposure pathways that led to these health risks. Click here for more.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dr. Robert Cameron Chairs International Panel of Medical Specialists at 4th Annual Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Dr. Robert Cameron
The Pacific Meso Center, in conjunction with The Office of Continuing Medical Education of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, held the 4th International Symposium on Lung-SparingTherapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma on June 7, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. The Worthington & Caron Law Firm was proud to once again be a platinum sponsor of this unique medical seminar focusing on rational treatment options for patients with pleural mesothelioma.

As in years past, the course organizer and chair of the symposium was thoracic surgeon and pleural mesothelioma specialist, Dr. Robert Cameron. An ardent supporter of rational lung-sparing treatments for pleural mesothelioma, and innovator of the pleurectomy/decortication (“PD”) surgical procedure, Dr. Cameron is the founder and director of both the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at the UCLA Medical Center and the Mesothelioma Treatment Center of Excellence at the West Los Angeles Veterans’ Administration Medical Center.

Dr. Cameron discussed how, because of the diffuse nature of mesothelioma tumors, there is no advantage to removing the lung via extrapleural pneumonectomy (“EPP”), a radical surgery which involves removal of the pleura-based tumor along with the adjacent lung, diaphragm and portions of the pericardium. Dr. Cameron explained that, as compared to lung-sparing PD, “there are consequences to extending the surgical field with EPP.” Dr. Cameron pointed to statistics revealing a greater rate of “distant” tumor recurrence associated with EPP. He noted that “distant” recurrences in areas such as the peritoneum are more difficult to treat than “local” recurrences at or near the tumor bed.

In a second presentation, Dr. Cameron addressed the latest developments in intraoperative therapies to attack disease at a cellular level through chemicals such as Betadine, as well as chemotherapy, thermal therapies, light therapies and immune therapies.

Dr. Olga Olevsky
Dr. Olga Olevsky, Oncologist and member of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA, addressed the topic of when is the optimal time to administer Pemetrexed/Cisplatin or Pemetrexed/Carboplatin chemotherapy—before, during or after surgery. She presented the results of studies revealing that there is no statistical advantage to any of the three protocols, but posited that there may be advantages to adjuvant or postoperative administration of chemotherapy because it allows more aggressive initial treatment via surgery and allows for more accurate monitoring of response.

Dr. Percy Lee, Chief of Thoracic Radiation Oncology and member of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA Medical Center, gave an informative presentation on postoperative tomotherapy following PD. Dr. Lee explained how he and his team at UCLA work closely with Dr. Cameron to maximize effective delivery of radiation and minimize the risk of radiation toxicity utilizing the latest tomography technology.

A timely presentation regarding the challenges of treating veterans, who are disproportionally affected by mesothelioma, in the world’s largest healthcare system, and how the Mesothelioma Treatment Center of Excellence at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center has overcome these challenges was provided by Graciela Hoal, RN, NP.

Dr. Irene I-Lan Wu, Assistant Director of the UCLA Pain Management Center, gave a presentation regarding recent developments in postoperative pain management therapies including intrathecal drug delivery and spinal cord stimulators.

Dr. Cameron speaking with Dr. I-Lan Wu
and Dr. Lee (seated)
International presenters, Dr. Jan von MeerBeeck, Professor of Thoracic Oncology and Director of Thoracic Oncology at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and Dr. Joachim Aerts, Chief of Thoracic Oncology at Erasmus Cancer Institute in Rotterdam, Netherlands, gave presentations on recent studies involving state-of-the-art targeted therapies for advanced/inoperable mesothelioma and dendritic cell based immunotherapy.

Updates regarding research into innovative mesothelioma therapies involving mesenchymal stem cells and genes and molecular mechanisms being conducted at the Pacific Meso Center were provided by Research Scientists Raymond Wong, PhD and Irina Ianculescu, PhD.

Pacific Meso Center Executive
Director, Clare Cameron
Presentations regarding the global health risks of asbestos and the continuing need for meaningful bans were provided by Dr. Richard Lemen, Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General, and Linda Reinstein, President and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

Lastly, Pacific Meso Center Executive Director Clare Cameron gave a presentation about the role of non-profits in the fight against mesothelioma, and provided updates on the many resources available to mesothelioma sufferers through the Pacific Meso Center.

The Pacific Meso Center plans to release videos of the symposium presentations on its website in the coming weeks.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fresno Jury Finds Bendix Despicable, Awards $10.9 Million

Jimmy Phillips
San Pedro, CA, May 29, 2014 – The Worthington & Caron Law Firm is pleased to announce that a jury in Fresno,California has returned a substantial verdict in favor of our clients, the family of James ‘Jimmy’ Phillips, deceased, a 59 year-old plumber and race car enthusiast.

Defendant Honeywell, whose predecessor, Bendix, made asbestos-containing brake pads and linings, was the only defendant at trial. The jury awarded $7.4 million in compensatory damages and assigned 30% of fault to Bendix. The jury also found that Bendix acted with reckless indifference and awarded an additional $3.5 million in punitive damages. This was the first mesothelioma verdict ever awarded in Fresno.

The lawsuit was originally filed in May of 2012 in Alameda County, California. The defendants fought to transfer venue to Fresno, where they anticipated a more “defense-friendly” jury pool. The Fresno jury deliberated six days before rendering its verdict in favor of the Phillips family. The trial team of Stuart Purdy and Rob Green (attorneys with co-counsel Simon, Greenstone, Panatier, Bartlett) did an outstanding job putting on a strong case against a very tough defendant in a new jurisdiction.

According to Rob Green, "Jim was always the guy the family and community called on to help them out when something went wrong. It was an honor to help out Jim and his family. Our trial was straightforward. We explained what science, medicine and common sense told us, and what every reputable expert in the field agreed with, about this defendant’s asbestos products. The jury understood it and held them accountable.”

Jimmy was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in March of 2012. After nearly 11 months of treatment, Jimmy passed away from his asbestos-caused cancer.

Purdy and Green presented evidence that Jimmy was exposed to asbestos dust from automotive products while working on cars, race cars, trucks and heavy equipment beginning in the 1960s.

John Caron of Worthington & Caron notes, “How many men like Jim spent time as a teenager working part-time at a service station or doing shade tree work on their cars? This was a virtual rite of passage in our car-crazed nation in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Unfortunately, this little slice of Americana had deadly consequences for Jim and many others because of the asbestos that manufacturers like Bendix included in their products. We applaud the Fresno jury for holding Bendix accountable for its role in causing the nightmare the Phillips family has been living since Jim’s diagnosis.”

Charity and Jimmy Phillips

Jimmy leaves behind Charity, his wife 41 years, five children and fourteen grandchildren. The family has chosen to work through their loss by banding together to help others in their battle against cancer. On May 24, Kourtni McLaughlin, one of Jimmy’s daughters, organized the 1st Annual “Jimmy’s Golf Tournament” in Mariposa, California. The tournament was an incredible success. A small army of friends and family helped raise over $12,000, half of which was donated to support mesothelioma research at the Pacific Meso Center in Los Angeles, California. The other half will be distributed to local families battling cancer and towards a college scholarship at the local high school.

Worthington & Caron are proud to be Gold Sponsors of the 1st Annual Jimmy's Golf Tournament, and look forward to many more years of supporting this worthy fundraiser that honors an outstanding man.

Charity is extremely grateful and thankful to all of her attorneys. “I am so proud of Stu and Rob. They never backed down, for Jimmy. The entire legal team was so supportive, both with any legal issues as well as personal issues. Those boys fought long and hard for Jimmy. I consider them a part of my family now. I miss them!”

For more information, please contact john@worthingtoncaron.com, or 800-31-9399.  Worthington & Caron is located in San Pedro, California. You can also visit www.mesothel.com

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Worthington & Caron Proud to Again Sponsor the 4th Annual International Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

On June 7 some of the leading physicians involved in the diagnosis and treatment of pleural mesothelioma will meet at the Sheraton Delfina in Santa Monica, California for the 4th Annual International Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. The symposium will be an all-day affair and begin at 8 am.

Worthington & Caron is proud to sponsor this symposium for the fourth consecutive year.

Once again, Dr. Robert B. Cameron will lead the symposium.  In addition to being the Director of the UCLA Mesothelioma Comprehensive Research Program, Dr. Cameron also is the Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center and Scientific Advisor at the Pacific Meso Center.

Although the seminar is geared toward physicians, it also offers continuing medical education credit and the latest information on mesothelioma for medical students, nurses, mesothelioma patients and their families

The Symposium is co-hosted by UCLA and the Pacific Meso Center. Joining Dr. Cameron will be several physicians (both 'home-grown' and international colleagues) and mesothelioma advocates, including:

  • Olga Olevsky, MD, of UCLA Medical Center
  • Percy Lee, MD, Chief Thoracic Radiation Oncology at UCLA
  • Dr. Richard Lemen, Former Assistant Surgeon General of the United States
  • Irene I-Lan Wu, MD, UCLA Pain Management Center 
  • Joachim Aerts, MD, of Erasmus MC Cancer Institute in the Netherlands
  • Jan P. van Meerbeeck, MD of Antwerp University Hospital in Belgium,
  • Linda Reinstein, President/CEO and Co-Founder Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization,
The symposium will be divided into four sessions: Lung-Sparing Surgical Techniques, Lung-Sparing Adjuvant Therapies, Potential Future Adjuvant Therapies and Supportive Therapies.

To register for the symposium, click here.

For a copy of the brochure, click here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Secretary Shinseki – Please Notify Veterans There’s No Waiting List at the Zumwalt Mesothelioma Treatment Program in Los Angeles

Dear Secretary Shinseki,

Zumwalt Meso
Treatment Program 
The best medical plan 
no veterans know about.

It’s upsetting to read the allegations in the news about secret wait lists, cover-ups, shabby treatment, premature deaths and a culture of apathy permeating the Department of Veterans Affairs.

What’s equally upsetting is letting veterans suffer and die with either no or minimal treatment even though a qualified medical team is standing by and eager to treat them.

For months now, patients and advocates (including Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.)) have been entreating you and Under Secretary Petzel to simply notify patients and doctors within the vast VA network of the world-class treatment available to veterans suffering from mesothelioma as a result of service-related asbestos exposure. 

About a year ago, the VA Medical Center in West Los Angeles, California approved (but did not budget) the Admiral Zumwalt Mesothelioma Treatment Program. The program is headed up by Dr. Robert Cameron, a well-respected thoracic surgeon who has dedicated his life to the rational treatment of pleural mesothelioma, a cancer which disproportionately impacts US service veterans.

Dr. Cameron and his crew are eager to treat veterans. Unfortunately, despite multiple requests and promises, the VA has yet to perform the simple administrative task of  updating its website and other social media about the existence of the program--notices that would alert veterans suffering from mesothelioma to the high quality treatment which is available them. Neither the VA nor West LA VA websites even mention the program. Please see our letter to Dr. Dean Norman, Chief of Staff, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. 

"When a veteran is
denied care, we are 
all dishonored." 
Barack Obama, 
Aug. 2007.
The mesothelioma treatment team at the West LA VA Medical Center would love to have a list of veterans to treat. But there’s no list, no waiting list and no effort to educate our war heroes stricken with asbestos cancer that help is available.

You’ve read about the double digit number of veterans who have allegedly died while waiting to be treated.  We may never know how many veterans with mesothelioma have died after receiving no or sub-standard treatment. 

According to the popular literature, about 4,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Of those, roughly a third were exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy. It’s not a stretch to surmise that at least 600 Navy veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year--a diagnosis that carries a 9 month life expectancy with no treatment and 11-12 months with chemotherapy only.

Mesothelioma is a rare disease and few doctors are either interested or qualified to treat it with the full arsenal of options available.  It’s a beautiful thing that a world-renowned surgeon like Dr. Cameron is willing to treat veterans, but it’s sad that the VA has done nothing to help educate patients about his extraordinary talents.

Secretary Shinseki, how many vets have to die before this issue finally works its way up to the inbox in your office? We’ve been sending letters to Under Secretary Petzel as well as our representatives for several months. Now that he’s resigned in the wake of the Phoenix scandal, what will happen to those heart-felt letters from patients and their families? Who will read them? Anybody? And more importantly, what will the VA do?

Secretary Shinseki,
please include 
building the Zumwalt
Meso Program in 
your mission to 
provide better and 
more timely
care to veterans.
Secretary Shinseki, we agree with you when you say that it’s your “mission” to provide quality care to each and every veteran. You say you’re “mad as hell” about recent allegations and vow “to do better.” With a budget of $164 billion, to your credit, you haven’t blamed the missteps on a lack of money. And you’re wise to investigate the nexus, if  any, between the waiting lists, which are a fact of life in modern patient management, and premature deaths.

But we are still waiting for a response. The request is simple: Will you please educate veterans and all caregivers within the VA system that the Zumwalt Mesothelioma Treatment Program is alive and well and eager to provide prompt, world-class treatment to veterans suffering from mesothelioma (without placing them on a long list!).

With new reports of the VA medical system’s failures capturing headlines every day, what better time to finally bring attention to an area where the VA has gotten it right!


Roger G. Worthington
May 20, 2014

The family of former Veteran John Johnson has pledged to help 
fund the Zumwalt Meso Program at the West LA VA.