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More About Mesothelioma Specialist Dr. Joel Baumgartner
Dr. Baumgartner is one of many peritoneal mesothelioma specialists emerging from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), where he completed a surgical oncology fellowship.
“A lot of the training in the fellowship involves taking care of these patients.”
His training included a focus on HIPEC and cytoreductive surgery. HIPEC stands for heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Surgical oncologists use this intraoperative therapy for many abdominal cancers.
“I got a lot of experience with that (at UPMC),” Dr. Baumgartner said of HIPEC surgery, noting the program offers “more exposure to this surgery than any fellowship program in the country.”
- Medical Degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, 2003
- Residency in General Surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, 2003‑2010
- Fellowship in General Surgical Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 2010‑2012
- Certified by the American Board of Surgery
Get Connected to Dr. Joel Baumgartner
Dr. Baumgartner sees patients from across the country. He is part of a national HIPEC program and sees 10‑15 people with peritoneal mesothelioma a year. He joined the UC San Diego Health System in 2013 as part of Moores Cancer Center.
Why Choose Dr. Baumgartner?
- Vast experience with HIPEC for peritoneal mesothelioma
- Support for immunotherapy in many cases
- Open to virtual consultations and appointments
Interest Comes From Helping Patients
Dr. Baumgartner sees 10-15 peritoneal mesothelioma patients a year at UC San Diego Health’s Moores Cancer Center. He said at least five are operable with cytoreduction and HIPEC, a promising sign for patient selection. Some doctors and institutions operate on a lower percentage of cases.
“I see almost all of the mesothelioma patients,” he said. “It was not a disease I was ever exposed to at all in medical school or residency training. I did see quite a few at (UPMC) when I was there.”
Dr. Baumgartner has a noble reason for clinical interest in peritoneal mesothelioma. He believes surgery and HIPEC does as much good for these patients as any cancer.
“We like to do those big operations and put patients through big recoveries if they will be meaningful.”
Survival with just systemic chemotherapy is usually 1‑2 years. Cytoreduction and HIPEC has a five‑year survival rate of at least 50%.
“We see a wide range of outcomes, even after surgery,” Dr. Baumgartner said. “In all cases, the goal is to do a complete cytoreduction and HIPEC. Sometimes we include chemotherapy before and after surgery. Sometimes not.
“There is a lot of variety. Sadly there are patients who recur sometimes a few months after surgery. Some patients are cured of it.”
Treatment Protocol at Moores Cancer Center
Cytoreductive surgery involves removal of the omentum and any overrun organs, such as the spleen. However, if there are just a few noticeable tumors, Dr. Baumgartner tries to ablate or gradually remove the nodules.
Even the peritoneum, where the initial mesothelioma tumor forms, can be spared. It’s an important lining for the abdominal organs.
“This is a common misconception,” Dr. Baumgartner said. “The peritoneum is not just the abdominal wall and diaphragm. It also covers the abdominal organs.”
Interest in Minimally Invasive Approaches
Dr. Baumgartner is interested in the benefits of minimally invasive HIPEC. This involves laparoscopic surgery through small incisions, called port sites.
“We only consider that approach for patients with a small volume of disease,” he said.
Patient selection is complicated for HIPEC surgery. There’s a focus on the subtype of the disease, volume of cancer and more. Imaging tests are integral to staging the disease and determining surgical candidacy.
“Mesothelioma is so hard to image to get a good sense of the disease, even with a great MRI,” he said.
If you would like to schedule a meeting with Dr. Baumgartner, contact our staff. You can send us your information through our free Doctor Match form or contact a patient advocate directly. It is important to do this as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of being eligible for surgery.
Sources & Author
- Joel M. Baumgartner, MD. UC San Diego Health. Retrieved from: https://providers.ucsd.edu/details/12183/surgery-cancer. Accessed: 08/31/2021.
- Joel Baumgartner. UC San Diego. Retrieved from: https://profiles.ucsd.edu/joel.baumgartner. Accessed: 08/31/2021.