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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 in the U.S. It provides the most advanced treatments, tests, 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 the late Dr. David Sugarbaker, one of the world’s leading experts in this cancer. Patients here can expect the best care, not just from 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 academic health sciences centers in the world. It began in 1864 as a private medical college, Toland Medical College, and has focused on medicine ever since. By 1873 the private school 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 while providing patients the best treatments with excellent outcomes for survival and quality of life. The designation gives the Cancer Center greater access to money for research and clinical trials.
As a comprehensive cancer center the UCSF facility is dedicated to four missions. 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 patients who come to the UCSF Medical Center are mostly referred for treatment to the Hellen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center. These patients receive the best care and benefit from the research 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.
Patients at the Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center have access to some of the best treatments for mesothelioma. The Center and UCSF have a 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 protects healthy tissue from damage.
Radiation therapy is an important component in mesothelioma treatment, 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. Patients participate in clinical trials and benefit from the most advanced treatments that are not yet approved for general use. 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.
Page Edited by Patient Advocate Dave Foster
Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available.