University of California San Diego Health

3855 Health Sciences Drive, La Jolla, California 92037

University of California San Diego Health is one of the top cancer centers along the West Coast. The hospital includes Moores Cancer Center, which has a top-rated HIPEC program for peritoneal mesothelioma. The cancer center also has an experienced surgeon for abdominal diseases.

University of California San Diego Health
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Peritoneal Mesothelioma

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University of California San Diego Health

3855 Health Sciences Drive

La Jolla, California

Dr. Joel Baumgartner


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More About Mesothelioma Treatment at University of California San Diego Health

University of California San Diego Health, also called UC San Diego Health, is affiliated with a leading cancer center. Moores Cancer Center treats patients with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. The goal is to provide aggressive surgery to drastically improve survival times.

Moores Cancer Center is recognized as an elite institution with designation from the National Cancer Institute. Only a select few cancer centers are NCI-designated. Moores Cancer Center is proudly on the list.

Dr. Joel Baumgartner is the primary surgical oncologist for the cancer center’s HIPEC program. This is one of the top HIPEC treatment facilities along the western coast of the United States.

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Experienced Mesothelioma Specialists

    • Dr. Joel Baumgartner, surgical oncologist
    • Dr. Lyudmila Bazhenova, medical oncologist
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    • University of California San Diego
    • Moores Cancer Center
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Treatment Specialties

    • Cytoreductive or debulking surgery
    • Heated intraoperative chemotherapy
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Get Connected to UC San Diego Health

UC San Diego Health has one of the top HIPEC treatment centers in the country. Moores Cancer Center, home to the HIPEC team, is in La Jolla, California, which is minutes from downtown San Diego. The cancer center treats a handful of peritoneal mesothelioma cases each year.

Why Choose UC San Diego Health?

  • Highly respected specialist open to new therapies
  • HIPEC treatment program for peritoneal mesothelioma
  • High-volume center in a major metropolitan area

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UC San Diego Health’s Approach to Treatment

HIPEC and cytoreductive surgery is the cornerstone of UC San Diego Health’s care for peritoneal mesothelioma patients. HIPEC, or hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy, sends liquid chemotherapy into the abdominal cavity immediately after doctors remove large sections of diseased tissue.

Moores Cancer Center delivers cisplatin and doxorubicin into the abdominal cavity during HIPEC treatment, although the medications may vary.

“We’ve had cases where we’ve used a different platinum agent, such as carboplatin,” Dr. Baumgartner said. “We’ve had other cases where we didn’t use doxorubicin due to previous cardiovascular issues.”

The selection process for surgery is crucial. Since the surgery is aggressive and radical, some patients aren’t eligible. However, the team at UC San Diego will consider some of the mesothelioma cell types often disregarded for surgery.

“We may still consider cytoreduction and HIPEC for sarcomatoid patients but after systemic chemotherapy to control the disease,” Dr. Baumgartner said.

Multidisciplinary Team of Medical Professionals

Aside from Dr. Baumgartner, the peritoneal malignancies team includes experts in different aspects of treatment. The surgeon works closely with medical oncologists and pathologists. The primary medical oncologist for peritoneal mesothelioma is Dr. Lyudmila Bazhenova. Others are:

  • Radiation oncologists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Residents, fellows and UC San Diego students

There’s also a clinical trials office for interested patients. UC San Diego is home to many  new therapies being tested for different cancers. It has participated in a lot of clinical trials for mesothelioma.

Dr. Baumgartner said few cancer centers along the Pacific Coast have the resources to treat peritoneal malignancies like peritoneal mesothelioma. Few cancer centers use HIPEC, which is why Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health has a high volume of patients.

Using Immunotherapy as an Alternative to Chemotherapy

Mesothelioma immunotherapy is an option at UC San Diego Health for patients, usually as a second- or third-line option. Dr. Baumgartner believes “there is a future” for the therapy, although “data is sparse at best.”

“The earliest studies included just a handful of peritoneal patients among the many pleural patients,” he said.

Dr. Baumgartner and the team recommend immunotherapy after surgery. These cases usually involve a postoperative recurrence, when a second surgery may not be safe or effective.

The team recommends chemotherapy first for unresectable cases. Immunotherapy is the next option, as it causes “much less toxicity” compared to intravenous chemotherapy. For systemic therapy like chemotherapy or immunotherapy, most patients are able to receive it at their local hospital.

“Most of our patients’ medical oncologists live somewhere else,” he said. “A few patients have gotten systemic therapy here at UCSD. Most get it closer to home.”

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Hospital Ranking

    • Listed in the U.S. News & World Report 2023-2024 Honor Roll
    • Ranked 20th for general cancer treatment
    • Ranked 18th in gastrointestinal cancer surgery (peritoneal mesothelioma)
    • Ranked 9th in lung cancer surgery (pleural mesothelioma)
    • Ranked 1st in California
    • Ranked 1st in San Diego

Housing Options for Out-of-Area Patients

UC San Diego Health sees patients from all across the country. Even many regional patients from California choose to fly to San Diego to receive treatment at Moores Cancer Center.

“Most patients are from out of town,” Dr. Baumgartner said. “The family needs to stay somewhere in town so there are options for that.”

Since there are so many long-distance cases, UC San Diego Health offers housing to patients and families through the Bannister Family House. This option is available to patients and their families.

Bannister Family House

The Bannister Family House program started in 1994. Ralph Bannister donated money to fund the initiative. When his wife and daughter were sick and at UC San Diego Health, he saw families sleeping on cold hospital floors.

According to the Bannister Family House website, “He wanted to provide a home away from home for these families and the many generations of families to come. The house is named in memory of his late wife, Stella, and his late daughter, Joann.”

Bannister Family House provides:

  • 12 hotel-style rooms
  • Community kitchen and dining room
  • Laundry facility
  • Television room
  • Part-time housekeeper

This option is crucial for the families of people needing cytoreductive surgery/HIPEC. Preoperative care begins a few days before surgery, the procedure takes a day, and recovery lasts at least 10 days.

Booking requests may need to be made months in advance due to limited availability. When housing isn’t available, UC San Diego Health will work with patients to find nearby housing through affiliate organizations.

UC San Diego Health welcomes patients from anywhere in the United States. Dr. Baumgartner sees a high volume of peritoneal mesothelioma cases, and he can provide a surgical consultation virtually to begin the treatment process. Send us your information to begin finding a cancer center for mesothelioma or email registered nurse Karen Ritter directly at karen@mesotheliomaguide.com.

Sources & Author

  1. Joel M. Baumgartner, MD. UC San Diego Health. Retrieved from: https://providers.ucsd.edu/details/12183/surgery-cancer. Accessed: 08/31/2021.
  2. UC San Diego Health-Jacobs Medical Center. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from: https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/area/ca/uc-san-diego-medical-center-6932820. Accessed: 09/15/2021.
  3. Bannister Family House. UC San Diego Health. Retrieved from: https://health.ucsd.edu/patients/family-houses/bannister/pages/default.aspx. Accessed: 09/15/2021.
Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the senior content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.