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University of California San Francisco Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center, San Francisco

The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center is home to the Hellen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. This cutting edge facility is a designated comprehensive cancer center, one of just 48 such facilities in the U.S. It provides the most advanced treatments, diagnostics, and support services for cancer patients of all types, including those with mesothelioma.

This is an especially important cancer center for mesothelioma patients because there are specialists in this type of cancer on staff. This includes Dr. David Jablons, who began specializing in mesothelioma after working under Dr. David Sugarbaker, one of the world’s leading experts in this cancer. Patients here can expect to get the best care, not just from the specialists, but from all the staff who work collaboratively to help each patient.

About the UCSF Medical Center and Cancer Center

The University of California San Francisco is one of the leading health sciences centers for academic studies in the world. It was first started in 1864 as a private medical college called Toland Medical College, and has retained the emphasis on medicine ever since. By 1873 the private school had become affiliated with the University of California System and became a public university. The medical school and hospital were instrumental in treating the thousands of people hurt in the great fire of 1906.

In 1948 UCSF established the Cancer Research Institute and over several decades the school began to consolidate all of its cancer activities into this one facility. In 1999 it received the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation of a comprehensive cancer center, and it was renamed the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2007.

An NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Hellen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in northern California. The designation is only given to facilities that conduct important research projects and demonstrate excellent science and that also treat patients with the best treatments and with excellent outcomes for patient survival and quality of life. For the designation, the Cancer Center gets greater access to funding for research and clinical trials.

As a comprehensive cancer center the UCSF facility is dedicated to four missions and goals. These include conducting research to better understand the causes of cancer and how it develops and leading clinical trials that take laboratory research and turn it into new treatments. Another goal is to provide the best and most sensitive patient care. Finally, the facility aims to research ways to prevent cancer, detect it early, and give patients with cancer a better quality of life.

Mesothelioma Specialists

Mesothelioma patients that come to the UCSF Medical Center are mostly referred for treatment to the Hellen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center. These patients can expect to receive the best care and to benefit from the world-leading research being conducted here. There are multiple mesothelioma specialists on staff, which makes the facility a top choice for patients dealing with this terrible disease.

They are led by the chief of the Section of General Thoracic Surgery, Dr. David Jablons. A mesothelioma specialist, he studied under Dr. David Sugarbaker at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and benefitted from the mentorship of this leading expert in mesothelioma. Dr. Jablons, along with other mesothelioma specialists, participates in both research and patient care, taking what he learns from studies and clinical trials and applying it to the patients who need the most advanced treatments.

Mesothelioma Treatment

Patients at the Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center are given access to some of the best treatments available for mesothelioma. The Center and UCSF have a cutting edge radiation oncology clinic, which includes some of the more cutting-edge radiation equipment and treatments. Mesothelioma patients can undergo gamma knife radiation therapy here as well as intensity-modulated radiation therapy, a type of radiation that focuses more on the tumor and better protects healthy tissue from damage.

Radiation therapy is often an important component in mesothelioma treatment plans, but patients at UCSF are likely to be given a multimodal plan that also includes surgical treatment and chemotherapy. Surgery, for patients who qualify, is an important part of treating mesothelioma. As both a thoracic surgeon and a specialist in mesothelioma, Dr. Jablons is especially qualified to perform the procedures that mesothelioma patients need, like pleurectcomy/decortication or extrapleural pneumonectomy.

Treatment at UCSF and at the Cancer Center also includes support services for mesothelioma and other cancer patients. An important part of care here comes from the Symptom Management Service. The staff works to help patients manage and minimize the symptoms of their cancer and cancer treatments so they can enjoy better quality of life. This includes managing pain, fatigue, nausea, but also emotional symptoms like anxiety and depression.

Research and Clinical Trials

The Cancer Center is an important treatment facility for patients with all types of cancer, but it is also a leading center for cancer research. As part of the NCI comprehensive cancer center network, the facility and its researchers receive government funding to conduct studies and clinical trials to help learn more about cancer, and to diagnose, treat, and prevent it.

There are several ongoing research projects and most are multi-disciplinary, meaning that experts in different fields come together to conduct research and solve problems. Some of the research projects going on include studying immunotherapy treatments for cancers, including mesothelioma, developing more precise imaging techniques, and studying how and why some people are more at risk for cancer, among many other areas of research.

Clinical trials are also important to the research done here. These are the studies that take research developments and translate them into actual treatments. Real patients get to participate in clinical trials and benefit from the most advanced treatments that are not yet approved for the general public. These are especially important for mesothelioma patients whose treatment options are often limited.

The Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is truly a center for excellence when it comes to cancer care and research. It is a referral site for patients with mesothelioma who need experienced specialists to help develop and administer treatment. Along with this expert care, mesothelioma patients also get support services to help them live more comfortably while battling cancer.

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