Palliative Care Expert to Speak on Mesothelioma Cancer

San Diego, CA—One of the nation’s top experts in the field of palliative cancer care will lecture on palliative options for mesothelioma patients on Tuesday, December 8, 2009.
Dr. Charles F. vonGunten, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Institute of Palliative Medicine, will speak at the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego. The conference is open to the public; health care providers, family members and patients whose lives have been touched by mesothelioma are all invited to attend. Palliative care includes a wide range of therapies and treatments designed to make the mesothelioma patient more comfortable during the remainder of their life span. In addition to traditional treatment methods as chemotherapy and radiation which are meant to shrink the tumors, there are also some surgical options which can help relieve pain, including thoracentesis, in which fluid is drained from the lungs, and pleurodesis, which injects talc or another subject into the chest cavity in order to stem fluid buildup. Holistic approaches such as hypnosis, meditation, acupuncture, and massage are also useful as part of an integrated palliative care plan.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, but a particularly painful one. It occurs as a result of asbestos exposure, and can cause a patient to experience breathing difficulties that may worsen as time goes on. There is no cure for mesothelioma, and since most cases are not diagnosed until they have developed to an advanced stage, often curative surgery or treatment is not possible. For many patients with this devastating form of cancer, palliative treatments are the best hope for maintaining the highest quality of life. The median survival time for a mesothelioma patient is from four to 18 months, although there have of course been cases of longer survival times. Dr. vonGunten is an experienced investigator for the National Cancer Institute, the former President of the American Association for Cancer Education, and the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Palliative Medicine.