Tuesday, September 14, 2010
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Mayo Clinic in Arizona has been designated one of a network of 15 clinics nationwide to diagnose and treat LAM, a rare lung disease that most often affects women in their 30s and 40s.
Mayo was designated for this service by the LAM Foundation, an organization that seeks to find an effective treatment for the disease. Mayo is recognized for having the expertise and multidisciplinary capacity to accurately diagnose and treat the disease, as well as to manage its complications.
LAM, clinically known as lymphangioleiomyomatosis, is a disease where abnormal cells begin to grow out of control and adversely affect organs or tissues in the body. Over time, the disease, which as yet has no cure, can invade the lungs and destroy normal lung tissue. When that occurs, patients can experience shortness of breath and pain. In serious cases of LAM, a lung can collapse — which is potentially life-threatening.
Benefits of the availability of a LAM Clinic include access to lung disease specialists, such as pulmonologists, for early diagnosis and treatment. Currently there is no treatment to halt the cysts and abnormal growth of cells that occur in LAM. Treatment of the disease is critical to ease symptoms and prevent complications.
Commonly used treatments include medication to open the lungs, oxygen therapy, fluid-reducing procedures, hormone therapy and bronchodilators.
An important advantage of having access to a LAM Clinic is the potential availability of clinical trials to help advance research and treatment of the disease that currently affects more than 800 women in the U.S. According to studies, more women may have LAM and not know it. Symptoms of LAM (shortness of breath, cough, chest pains and fatigue) can often mimic symptoms of asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.
The LAM Clinic at Mayo Clinic is staffed by pulmonologists and a diverse, multidisciplinary team of specialists. Current LAM patients in Arizona are seen by Richard Helmers, M.D., Pulmonary Medicine and Critical Care and Medical Director of the LAM Clinic, who notes, "LAM is a rare disease, but with improvements in CT scanning, early diagnosis is possible. Also, some medications are being studied that show potential in terms of treatment." Associate Director of the Lam Clinic is Laszlo Vaszar, M.D., Pulmonary Medicine, also at Mayo Clinic.
To meet criteria to be designated as a LAM Clinic, the medical institution must have the expertise to deliver state-of-the-art, coordinated LAM care and to perform cooperative research with other LAM clinics. The LAM Foundation's designated LAM Clinic may also be asked to serve as a clinical trial site.
To request an appointment at Mayo Clinic, please call 480-422-1490 for the Arizona campus, 904-494-6484 for the Florida campus, or 507-216-4573 for the Minnesota campus.
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