What You Need to Know About Mesothelioma Treatment at VA Hospitals

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It’s estimated that one-third of patients with mesothelioma are veterans. Fortunately, veterans with mesothelioma can receive highly specialized care through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to slow the disease growth and extend their life expectancy.

Veterans who came into contact with asbestos while serving in the military have several treatment options through the VA healthcare system. Unfortunately, VA hospitals used to have a poor reputation for providing low-quality care. As a result, many veterans tend to be hesitant about receiving treatment at these facilities.

But things have changed. Today, two of the top mesothelioma specialists in the country are in charge of mesothelioma treatment at VA hospitals. Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma have more treatment options than they may think. Here’s what you need to know.

Mesothelioma Treatment at VA Hospitals

The VA healthcare system has mesothelioma specialists in Boston, Los Angeles, and Houston. Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare can be treated by specialist doctors at any VA facility without paying more than they would for treatment at their local VA Hospital. Plus, if you’re already enrolled in the VA system, you can seek this treatment without a referral.

Since you may have to travel a long distance to receive treatment, your local VA hospital may reimburse your travel expense if they give you a referral. You may also qualify for housing assistance for you and your family members during treatment.

It’s important to remember that veterans receiving VA benefits can also be treated at non-VA hospitals with mesothelioma treatment programs if they wish. Your treatment at a non-VA facility will be covered by as long as the VA has approved it. However, many veterans still prefer to receive specialized treatment and personalized therapy from VA facilities.

Why Choose VA Hospitals for Mesothelioma Treatment?

Veterans often choose to receive mesothelioma treatment at VA hospitals because the staff has extensive experience understanding their unique needs. Unlike general hospitals, the care provided at VA hospitals is specially tailored to veterans. Plus, several studies have revealed that the quality of care provided by VA hospitals is often better than that of non-VA hospitals.

Sadly, mesothelioma has no cure at this time. Mesothelioma doctors use ongoing therapies to slow the progression of the disease and prolong their patient's life. It's crucial that these continuous therapies are as gentle as possible to avoid causing unnecessary pain or discomfort.

VA medical teams have treated countless veterans and are highly familiar with their particular ailments. In VA hospitals, doctors and staff deliver care with specific attention to the patient’s life goals. For someone with a mesothelioma diagnosis, optimizing their quality of life is an essential aspect of treatment.

VA Hospitals With Mesothelioma Programs

The Boston VA Hospital is one of the leading centers in the U.S. with special expertise in treating pleural mesothelioma. Dr. Abraham “Avi” Lebenthal, a veteran himself, leads mesothelioma care at the hospital’s West Roxbury campus. Here, highly specialized doctors perform surgery on around 300 patients every year.

The West Los Angeles VA Medical Center provides veterans with lung-sparing surgeries to remove tumors from the chest. Dr. Robert Cameron is a leading expert and innovator of this meticulous surgery, having performed the operation on hundreds of patients. The LA hospital also has particular expertise in treating the extremely rare and aggressive form of mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma.

Visit the UCLA Health website to learn more about Dr. Robert Cameron.


The Mesothelioma Veterans Center has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Robert B. Cameron. The contact information above is listed for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. Cameron directly.

In Houston, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center is closely affiliated with the Baylor College of Medicine. This partnership allows thoracic surgeons at the College to treat veterans with mesothelioma at the Houston VA Center. Thoracic surgeon, Dr. Taylor Ripley is the director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center in the Baylor Lung Institute and has extensive training and experience in mesothelioma treatment.

VA Benefits and Mesothelioma Treatment

Veterans who receive a mesothelioma diagnosis should avoid settling for treatment from a general hospital. Since mesothelioma is so rare, general oncologists and cancer specialists often lack experience with the disease. This may affect both the accuracy of your diagnosis as well as your life-prolonging treatment options.

Seeking a second option from a mesothelioma specialist at a VA Hospital will reveal your best treatment options. Mesothelioma hospitals incorporate the latest research into their treatment methods and employ doctors who are highly trained in this rare disease. Veterans treated for mesothelioma at VA Hospitals also have access to emerging treatments from clinical trials for veterans.

Remember, veterans who developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during their military service are eligible for certain benefits. These benefits can help veterans fund their mesothelioma treatment and access some of the best specialists in the country.

Start your claim today. Call us now at (877) 450-8973 and speak with VA-Accredited VA Claims Agents from the Mesothelioma Veterans Center to learn if you qualify for VA benefits. Or, get your FREE Mesothelioma Veterans Packet to understand your treatment options, VA benefits eligibility, and more.

Veterans Support Team
Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

  1. “Veterans Asbestos Exposure” U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/. Accessed on February 8, 2019.
  2. “VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System” U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/greater-los-angeles-health-care/. Accessed on February 8, 2019.
  3. “Comparing VA and Non-VA Quality of Care: A Systematic Review” Journal of General Internal Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5215146/. Accessed on February 8, 2019.