The Pros and Cons of a National Mesothelioma Registry

Internationally renowned thoracic surgeon Dr. Robert Cameron was the first to propose a National Mesothelioma Registry. Twenty years later, he finds himself in an unlikely role.


Cameron is considered a cutting-edge pioneer for creating and refining lung-sparing and other mesothelioma surgeries. Currently, he is the director of thoracic surgery at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and scientific advisor for the innovative Pacific Mesothelioma Center, a non-profit lab solely focused on mesothelioma research.

Instead of a registry, the doctor now believes that existing programs and databases are more than adequate. To him, a government-funded national registry would be redundant and pricey. Initially suggesting the registry came as the year 2000 was dawning when most medical records were on paper. Fast forward 19 years, electronic records have replaced their hard copy counterparts. Cameron believes that to be sufficient and much needed financial resources should be redirected to more important matters.

Many advocates disagree and cite countless benefits to having a “real-time” national registry:

  • Identifying the exact number of people developing mesothelioma and demographics to organize diagnoses and treatment
  • Improving the ability for therapeutic evaluation through clinical trial recruitment
  • Expanding ways to determine certain trends
  • Gathering occupational exposure and medical data to help research

Despite the divide between supporters and opponents, some common ground exists. Concerns surround private businesses potentially exploiting the database to further political agendas. Also, the registry could be mistaken as a “life-saving” tool, giving false hopes to mesothelioma victims and their family members.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health is coordinating the feasibility study. The period of recommendations and comments end August 7.

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