Dr. Robert Cameron

Quick Summary

Dr. Robert Cameron is the founder and director of UCLA’s mesothelioma program, and the inventor of the pleurectomy with decortication surgery that is often used to treat pleural mesothelioma. He continues to actively explore new procedures, including cryoablation, which could potentially help cure mesothelioma in the future.

“Pleural mesothelioma is a very unusual and even rare cancer. It only occurs in approximately 2000 to 3000 people each year in the United States. The actual true number though is not really known, because it’s not really being tracked.” —Dr. Robert Cameron

As a result of his previous and ongoing contributions, Dr. Cameron is one of the leading surgeons in the fight against pleural mesothelioma.

Dr. Cameron holds several respectable titles, including Chief of Thoracic Surgery at West LA Veterans’ Medical Center, and co-founder of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. He is a talented thoracic surgeon with a wide range of medical interests, including numerous thoracic cancers, robotic surgery, lung transplants, and chest malignancies.

Dr. Cameron is also known for his willingness to share his opinion and challenge existing protocols for mesothelioma treatment when patients’ well-being may be at stake.

Dr. Robert Cameron’s Location

Thoracic Surgery Associates

10780 Santa Monica Blvd

Suite 100

Los Angeles, CA 90025-7613


Dr. Cameron’s Career Highlights

  • Invented pleurectomy with decortication surgery for treating mesothelioma
  • Director of UCLA’s Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program, when he founded
  • Chief of thoracic surgery at West Los Angeles VA Medical Center
  • Co-founder & former director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Dr. Cameron’s Background

Dr. Cameron received his MD from UCLA School of Medicine after also attending medical school at the University of Michigan. With his degree in hand, Dr. Cameron stayed at UCLA for an internship and a five-year residency in general surgery. Dr. Cameron then completed a clinical fellowship in surgical oncology at the National Cancer Institute.

“When I went to college, even though my major was in a ‘soft science’, medieval studies, I became involved in some basic cancer biology research at the medical center there. After that, I was hooked. When I decided to become a surgeon, I naturally decided to become a cancer surgeon.” —Dr. Cameron.

Background Update

In 1992, Dr. Cameron joined Cornell University Medical Center in New York, where he spent the next two-years devoted to a cardiothoracic residency. He became board-certified in cardiothoracic surgery in 1995, and his career took off from there.

“When I trained in the 1980’s and early 1990’s as a general surgeon and a surgical oncologist, there was really no good treatment for this horrible disease [called mesothelioma]. But as part of my education for surgical oncology, I actually reviewed all types of tumors, and I edited and co-wrote a small book on cancer treatment as part of that research, and I carefully looked into the treatment options for this disease. I actually assigned myself a chapter on mesothelioma, so I became quite familiar with all the treatment options and clearly new approaches were needed,” said Dr. Cameron.

Starting in 1994, Dr. Cameron worked at the University of California San Francisco as Chief of Thoracic Surgery. Here he was responsible for all things thoracic surgery, including surgical procedure, the thoracic oncology work at the hospital’s cancer center, and the education of interns and residents.

Dr. Cameron returned to UCLA three years later as a thoracic surgeon and surgical oncology professor. He was acting Chief of Thoracic Surgery for five years, during which time he created both surgical and teaching programs. Dr. Cameron also joined the Pacific Thoracic Surgeon Associates as a surgical oncologist and cardiothoracic surgeon and the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center as Chief of Thoracic Surgery. Two decades later, he still holds these positions.

Dr. Cameron is currently the Director of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

Medical Specializations

Dr. Cameron is a talented thoracic surgeon who has devoted a good portion of his career to eradicating malignant pleural mesothelioma. He also specializes in other chest, lung and esophageal cancers, and has a wide range of medical interests that include cellular biology, immunology research, databases and information systems, medical computer systems, robotic surgery, and minimally invasive techniques.

Dr. Cameron is board certified in both general and cardiothoracic surgery.

Dr. Cameron’s Career Accomplishments

Dr. Cameron’s most notable accomplishment was the creation of his pleurectomy/decortication procedure, a breakthrough surgery for mesothelioma patients. Before P/D, the only surgical option for pleural mesothelioma patients was an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), a controversial procedure in which the lung is permanently removed, along with lung and heart linings and part of the diaphragm.

By contrast, P/D removes the lining of the lung (pleurectomy) and any visible tumors (decortication), but leaves the lung itself intact. While still a significant and serious surgery, many surgeons believe that P/D gives patients a better quality of life after the procedure when compared to EPP.

Dr. Cameron feels very strongly about the benefits that P/D have over the EPP. He explains that he feels it’s unnecessary to remove the lung, the diaphragm and the heart lining when the malignancy (cancer) isn’t involved inside the lung and only affects the exterior.

Dr. Cameron may be best known for P/D, but he has had numerous additional accomplishments throughout his career. He co-founded the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, the only non-profit devoted to mesothelioma research, education, and advocacy. In addition, Dr. Cameron has authored more than 35 articles in medical journals and has contributed to approximately 40 book chapters. He also edited the Practical Oncology textbook, as well as a text on research techniques.

Awards & Honours

  • America’s Top Doctors
  • Southern California Super Doctors
  • Super Doctors
  • Checkbook Top Doc
  • ACS Fellow
  • Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society – University of Michigan (top 4% of students)

Dr. Cameron’s Current Work

Dr. Robert Cameron currently holds many positions, including Chief of Thoracic Surgery at West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, surgical professor at UCLA, and cardiothoracic surgeon and surgical oncologist at the Pacific Thoracic Surgeon Association.

Dr. Cameron is also Director of UCLA’s Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program, which he initially founded. The program uses his P/D procedure in conjunction with post-operative therapies, treating mesothelioma as a chronic condition. Dr. Cameron’s mesothelioma program strives to extend patients’ survival rates while maintaining a strong emphasis on quality of life.

“The most important recommendation to make [to mesothelioma patients], is that you should be seen at a mesothelioma center of excellence. That is a center that generally sees a lot of these patients on an annual basis,” said Dr. Cameron. “One of the unfortunate fallouts from the approval of effective chemotherapy for this tumor was that now any local oncologist can give chemotherapy for this disease, when in the past they had nothing to really offer. Patients in the past were often referred to bigger centers that have experience but now, the first thing they hear, is that they should just receive chemotherapy.”

Notable Work by Dr. Cameron

In one study, Dr. Cameron and his colleagues review the results of a potential new treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma. The study reviews cryoablation, a process in which tissue is destroyed using sub-zero temperatures. In this research, 24 patients received a total of 110 cryoablations during 89 procedures.

One year after the cryoablation procedure, 90% of the mesothelioma tumors had not returned, and 73.7% still hadn’t come back at three years. While the results are still fairly new, the study indicates that cryoablation can successfully remove some local forms of mesothelioma and has minimal side-effects.

If you’re interested in working with Dr. Robert Cameron, contact our Patient Advocates today to learn more about how to get a referral to top mesothelioma specialists in the country.

View Author and Sources

  1. Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute. “Dr. Robert Cameron, MD.” Retrieved from http://www.phlbi.org/about/scientificadvisoryboard/dr-cameron/. Accessed on December 19th, 2017.
  2. David Geffen School of Medicine. “Robert Cameron, M.D.” Retrieved from https://people.healthsciences.ucla.edu/institution/personnel?personnel_id=8492. Accessed on December 19th, 2017.
  3. UCLA Health. “Robert B. Cameron, MD.” Retrieved from https://www.uclahealth.org/robert-cameron. Accessed on December 19th, 2017.
  4. LinkedIn. “Robert Cameron.” Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertbcameronmd/. Accessed on December 19th, 2017.
  5. New Cancer Mentality. “New Cancer Mentality: Thoracic Surgeon Dr. Robert Cameron on Mesothelioma Treatment”. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLfu8iF6ACY. Accessed on December 19th, 2017.

Last modified: May 7, 2018