Dr. Shanel Bhagwandin

Medical Director for Gastrointestinal Surgery Oncology at Jupiter Medical Center

Dr. Shanel Bhagwandin is the Medical Director for the gastrointestinal surgery oncology program at Jupiter Medical Center in South Florida. He regularly performs HIPEC with cytoreductive surgery for malignant peritoneal mesothelioma.

Dr. Shanel Bhagwandin

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Peritoneal Mesothelioma

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Jupiter Medical Center

1210 S. Old Dixie Highway, Jupiter, FL 33458


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More About Mesothelioma Specialist Dr. Shanel Bhagwandin

Dr. Bhagwandin began the peritoneal surface malignancies program at Jupiter Medical Center in 2017. The focus includes treatment for patients with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, a clinical focus for the specialist.

He trained under Dr. Daniel Labow, an esteemed peritoneal mesothelioma specialist. Dr. Labow runs the HIPEC program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, New York. HIPEC, the acronym for “hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy”, is a cornerstone therapy for peritoneal mesothelioma.

Dr. Bhagwandin was in a fellowship at the cancer center, an experience he called “tremendous.”

“I definitely give a lot of credit to him just in regards to program‑building,” he said, noting Dr. Labow began the HIPEC program at Mount Sinai in 2006.

“A lot of what we do is determining whether a patient is eligible to undergo HIPEC with surgery.”

Dr. Bhagwandin brought what he learned under Dr. Labow to Jupiter Medical Center. Since starting the peritoneal malignancies program, he sees 10‑15 peritoneal mesothelioma cases each year. While patients are usually local or regional to Florida, he does accept cases from throughout the United States.

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Medical Degrees and Residencies

    • Medical degree from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Bradenton, Florida
    • Residency in general surgery at the University of Illinois‑Chicago
    • Fellowship in complex general surgery oncology at Mount Sinai Medical Center
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Certifications and Memberships

    • Certification in general surgery from the American Board of Surgery
    • Certification in complex general surgery oncology from the American Board of Surgery

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Dr. Bhagwandin sees around a dozen peritoneal mesothelioma cases each year. This puts him towards the top of specialists for case volume. He’s been treating patients with cytoreduction and HIPEC since 2013 and founded the Jupiter Medical Center’s peritoneal malignancies program.

Why Choose Dr. Bhagwandin?

  • Use of HIPEC for surgical candidates
  • Work with a multidisciplinary team of medical experts
  • Conducts virtual appointments

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Belief in HIPEC for Improved Survival

Dr. Bhagwandin built an affinity for helping peritoneal mesothelioma patients during his residency at the University of Illinois‑Chicago. This led to building his own program a few years later.

“HIPEC isn’t something that’s available everywhere,” he said. “I had the luck of being introduced to it and being introduced to patients with advanced disease who needed specialized treatment.”

Peritoneal mesothelioma has poor survival rates if left untreated. Many patients don’t live more than a year past their diagnosis. For patients who see a general oncologist, they may only get systemic chemotherapy. Most doctors say this approach won’t improve survival by more than a few months, and some patients miss out on a chance at a better outcome.

“A lot of times patients are told they have too much disease,” Dr. Bhagwandin said, stressing the importance of a surgeon’s opinion on treatment options. “Oftentimes, it could be a lot of disease but it’s treatable as well.

“I think there is a large variation for opinions given. The onus is almost put back on the patient to try and get some hope (from a doctor). So a lot of hope can be lost when the prognosis is poor without a surgical opinion.”

Debulking surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma has excellent survival rates. Dr. Bhagwandin said around 50% of patients who have complete cytoreductive surgery and HIPEC live for at least five years.

HIPEC also has fewer side effects than systemic chemotherapy, which travels from an IV through the bloodstream.

“It speaks to how we’re able to deliver such high doses of chemotherapy into the belly without having any effect on the body,” Dr. Bhagwandin said, noting the peritoneal tissue lining “limits” how much chemotherapy escapes outside of the abdominal cavity.

Support From a Multidisciplinary Team

Dr. Bhagwandin has a full team of experts helping him at Jupiter Medical Center. The input of many professionals is invaluable to determining the best course for treatment.

“It’s important to have a team when you’re diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma,” he said. “It’s important for me to have a team. The burden of everything can be overwhelming.”

The team helping Dr. Bhagwandin includes a general oncologist, radiation oncologist, dietician, program navigators and nurses. They all play a role in why he’s a top peritoneal mesothelioma doctor.

Focus on Quality of Life for Patients

He also prioritizes the balance between quality of life and treatment. He takes his time in assessing the status of the disease with imaging tests and a diagnostic laparoscopy. This helps with staging the cancer and determining the feasibility of surgery.

“We put a camera inside the belly and look around and calculate the peritoneal carcinoma index. … It is a little bit of a diagnostic workup,” he said, noting that patients should only undergo this surgery if it’ll help.

“If you’re going through this big operation, you want to make sure the treatment is at least going to improve survival. It shouldn’t worsen the disease and lead to an unfortunate outcome.”

Dr. Bhagwandin said his first objective is thoroughly explaining to a patient the medical options. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a fast‑spreading cancer with the ability to quickly reach organs. Patients must make difficult decisions regarding treatment, and he is right there to help them in the process.

“I think it’s important with regards to quality of life to figure out goals of care,” he said. “The more accurate information we can provide upfront as physicians really helps patients.”

Anyone interested in seeing Dr. Bhagwandin should contact our staff. Our patient advocate and registered nurse, Karen Ritter, can help you set up a consultation. Dr. Bhagwandin has allowed Telehealth meetings since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact Nurse Karen through our patient advocate page or sign up for our free Doctor Match program.

Sources & Author

  1. Meet Our Oncology Physicians. Jupiter Medical Center. Retrieved from: https://www.jupitermed.com/services/cancer-care/meet-the-physicians/. Accessed: 11/21/22.
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.