CANCER IS AN INSIDIOUS DISEASE. Last year, almost 1.7 million new cancer cases were expected to be diagnosed in America with an estimated 600,920 deaths. That is an alarming rate of 1,650 people day. Florida rivals only California for estimated new cases and deaths in 2018. The headline could read “120 people die in Florida yesterday, today, and tomorrow…,” but my goal as a cancer surgeon is to make an impact in patients’ lives and help them rewrite their story.
The most common cancers being diagnosed in the United States are those of the digestive tract. As a surgical oncologist, I care for patients with benign and malignant (cancer) disease that affect the colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, and stomach to name a few. The focuses of my practice also include minimally invasive techniques and offering patients a chance at long-term survival and, in many cases, cure.
The most devastating part of receiving a cancer diagnosis is learning that treatment options are limited without being evaluated by a cancer specialist or that there isn’t a nearby surgical oncologist at a comprehensive cancer center to treat you and your family. As the newest surgical oncologist at Jupiter Medical Center, allow me to offer a second opinion.
I grew up in South Florida and completed my undergraduate and medical school training here. After completing a Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, I joined the faculty there within the Division of Surgical Oncology. Being at one of the preeminent cancer programs in the country gave me the opportunity to treat rare and advanced cancers once thought to be incurable. As part of the Mount Sinai Hospital Health System, I returned to Palm Beach County in September 2017 as Medical Director for Surgical Oncology Network Development to provide first-class cancer surgery for patients here in South Florida. I came to Jupiter Medical Center because the hospital is committed to going above and beyond the scope of patient care. Within the Cancer Center, everyone is dedicated to transforming the future for cancer treatment and advancing our knowledge of understanding the disease.
When I provide a surgical opinion on many of the cancers I treat, I confer with several treating physicians that are experts in their field to individualize the treatment plan. Patients benefit in a multitude of ways from a tightly coordinated team approach that begins at initial diagnosis, and is continually reevaluated throughout treatment. The team philosophy underlines that every patient is unique in all aspects and why ‘second opinions’ are necessary when faced with a cancer diagnosis.
This is of particular importance when evaluating silent cancers like those of the pancreas, bile ducts, liver, and gallbladder. These cancers are some of the most advanced and complex cancers that I treat surgically, and it is of utmost importance to be evaluated early following any suspicion of or confirmed diagnosis. My partners and I have extensive experience treating these tumors, and I routinely provide my patients here in Florida with a ‘second opinion’ from other Mount Sinai- New York surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, and gastroenterologists without them having to leave the area.
I am currently leading the research efforts to manage patients with pancreatic cancer and pancreatic cysts through more accurate diagnostic screening. In addition, I specialize in the management of advanced peritoneal carcinomatosis (a rare type of cancer that occurs in the peritoneum; the thin layer of tissue that covers abdominal organs and surrounds the abdominal cavity) through the application of Hyperthermic IntraPeritoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC)— a technique that combines surgery with chemotherapy delivered directly into the abdomen.
I chose to be a cancer surgeon in part because cancer is both a challenging and fascinating disease process, and the ability to surgically eradicate it remains the most effective treatment. What I value most are the relationships with my patients, which are built on trust and hope. I am always striving to ensure that they have an accurate assessment of their cancer diagnosis and an expeditious treatment plan.
I’m grateful to return home and not only provide care to patients who haven’t had access to it, but to make an impact in the area where I grew up. Look for upcoming columns on the following topics:
• Rationale for HIPEC and patient selection.
• Treatment and new approaches for complex liver tumors.
• What a multi-disciplinary clinic provides in terms of the individualized treatment plans.
For more information about Dr. Bhagwandin and Jupiter Medical Specialists, log on to www.jupitermedicalspecialists.com. ¦