For individuals suffering from mesothelioma, it isn’t enough to just go to your nearby hospital for medical care. It is important that you find a doctor who is skilled in treating this rare cancer, as well as a hospital that is familiar with the care you will need. There are many factors to consider when determining which treatments will work best for you.
What is a Mesothelioma Cancer Center?
While there are hundreds of hospitals around the country, many of them may not be the best fit for mesothelioma patients. Because this form of cancer is so rare, it may be more difficult for cancer doctors at regular hospitals to see the signs. This is why mesothelioma cancer centers are so important.
These facilities are home to mesothelioma specialists, such as surgeons, oncologists, pulmonologists, and pathologists who are experienced in managing this rare form of cancer.
These medical experts have access to cutting-edge diagnostic tools and can give you a more informed prognosis. They also have access to treatments that can reduce tumors and relieve symptoms. Under their specialized care, patients may be able to extend their life spans.
Some mesothelioma cancer centers are VA-based, which means they specialize in treating veterans with mesothelioma that was brought on by asbestos exposure during military service. These hospitals offer certain benefits that are only available through the VA, like free treatment, financial compensation, and disability and pension pay.
Other mesothelioma cancer centers are open to the public. These hospitals also offer benefits to their patients like free housing, or access to clinical trials. No matter what type of hospital you choose, receiving treatment at a mesothelioma cancer center can increase your chances of survival.
How a Mesothelioma Cancer Center Can Help You
Mesothelioma cancer centers are an essential part of treatment because they have specialists on staff who have experience in handling this rare form of cancer.
Since mesothelioma is so rare, general hospitals may not have the resources needed to treat patients properly. At mesothelioma cancer centers, specialists have significant experience diagnosing, treating, and managing mesothelioma every day. Some are pioneers in their field and literally invented breakthrough surgical treatments.
Because the staff is so specialized, these facilities have the medical tools and procedures needed to treat mesothelioma patients and improve their overall quality of life.
Many mesothelioma centers also offer special and new treatments like clinical trials. These experimental treatments focus on beating this cancer in new ways or focus on tackling different aspects of the different types of mesothelioma. Clinical trials can give more options to patients who do not respond well to standard treatments.
Choosing The Right Mesothelioma Cancer Center
There are several major cancer hospitals located throughout the U.S. that care for mesothelioma patients. They include hospitals affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System and public hospitals that care for all patients.
There are several factors to consider when choosing the right hospital for you:
- Coverage: You will want to make sure that the cancer center is within your insurance coverage.
- Location: Ideally, the cancer center you work with will be close to your home. However, you may have to travel long distances to receive treatment that fits you best.
- Specialization: Most mesothelioma doctors will only focus on one specific type of mesothelioma (i.e. pleural or peritoneal). Before seeking treatment from a cancer center, you need to make sure the doctors there will be able to properly treat you.
- U.S. Military Service: Some cancer centers care for anyone with mesothelioma. VA medical centers only care for those who were exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. military. Veterans need to file for VA benefits in order to receive medical care at a VA-affiliated hospital.
Best Mesothelioma Cancer Centers
There are many hospitals across the country that can treat patients with mesothelioma, both for veterans and non-veterans alike. Many of these hospitals are world-renowned for their medical treatments and personnel.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Located in Boston, Brigham and Women’s Hospital caters to the public, so anyone with mesothelioma may come here for treatment. This is a world-class facility that employs surgeons, oncologists, radiation therapists, and other professionals who are skilled in caring for mesothelioma patients.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital partners with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard Medical school to offer the latest treatments for pleural mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung conditions through its International Mesothelioma Program (IMP). This program uses cutting-edge techniques to significantly prolong the lives of those suffering from mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung conditions.
This center also affords its patients access to clinical trials, such as:
- A new method for determining the stage and prognosis of individuals with malignant pleural mesothelioma
- A pre-surgery drug study for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma
- A study aimed to provide a better understanding of how mesothelioma patients’ blood clots for future surgeries
The hospital also offers housing facilities for patients and their families. This can be incredibly helpful for patients and families who have to travel long distances to attend this hospital as this alleviates the need to find housing or transportation.
Boston VA Hospital
The Boston VA Hospital cares for veterans who developed mesothelioma after they were exposed to asbestos during their time serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is partnered with the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The Boston VA Hospital treats hundreds of veterans with mesothelioma each year and is home to world-renowned mesothelioma specialists. One such specialist is Dr. Avi Lebenthal, a veteran of the Israeli army who now gives back to U.S. veterans through his treatments. Several other specialists also work with Dr. Lebenthal to treat veterans with mesothelioma.
Because it is a VA Hospital, it works with veterans to make sure they get the benefits afforded to them with minimal copays. The hospital also offers clinical trials that may possibly prolong the lives of veterans suffering from mesothelioma.
For those who may live far away, this hospital offers housing and transportation services to alleviate stress and travel expenses. Depending on their service and income, some patients may qualify for airfare as well.
The Mayo Clinic, located in Rochester, Minnesota, is world-renowned for its treatment options and positive outcomes. As world leaders in the research of mesothelioma, they employ specials with an incredibly wide range of experience.
This public cancer center treats hundreds of thousands of patients each year. If you are not located near one of their many centers, they also offer housing and transportation programs for patients needing care.
Not only does the Mayo Clinic employ mesothelioma care specialists, but the hospital is also a research facility that participates in clinical trials that could improve a patient’s condition. They work with patients suffering from pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial mesothelioma.
Clinical trials offered by the Mayo Clinic include:
- The Intrapleural Cryotherapy for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Study
- The Study of Performing Surgery for Resectable Pleural Mesothelioma after Radiation Therapy
- Intrapleural Measles Virus Therapy in Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
- The Study of Response Rate and Survival from Combined Chemotherapy
- Surgery and Radiation Therapy for Patients with Malignant Mesothelioma
In addition to the surgeons at the Mayo Clinic Thoracic Surgery Division, there are also specialty oncologists, pathologists and diagnostic specialists who have experience in treating mesothelioma. They are experts in the extrapleural pneumonectomy procedure, chemical pleurodesis for mesothelioma and the VATS biopsy for mesothelioma.
Outside of Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic has centers all over the country.
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
The Ronald Reagan UCLA was ranked the 7th best hospital in the nation and the best hospital in Los Angeles by U.S. News & Report in 2019.
Founded in 1955, this public center has been treating mesothelioma patients since 1997. It employs some of the best mesothelioma doctors, including Dr. Robert B. Cameron.
Under Dr. Cameron’s guidance, the center focuses on lung-sparing surgery to treat mesothelioma patients. Through years of research, Dr. Cameron developed a breakthrough surgery called pleurectomy with decortication (P/D).
This surgery removes the lining of the lung (pleurectomy) and any visible tumors (decortication) but leaves the lung itself intact. By not removing the lung, patients have a better chance of long-term recovery.
The results of this treatment have been promising. In a 2017 study, 20 patients received this treatment and doubled their life expectancy. Between keeping the cancerous lung, and radiation to keep any more cancer from developing, patients are afforded longer life.
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.
The mesothelioma treatment program also uses high-dose radiation after surgery to slow the cancer. The combination of surgery and follow-up treatment helps patients live longer without suffering from serious side effects.
West Los Angeles VA Medical Center
The West Los Angeles VA Medical Center is home to the largest health care system within the VA, and it treats many mesothelioma patients each year. Dr. Cameron also treats veterans at this facility.
The Los Angeles Health Care System is accredited by the Joint Commissions, which means that it has met the highest quality standards in health care and is a symbol of excellence in medical treatment.
Patients at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center are treated by health care professionals skilled in the latest mesothelioma treatments. Patients may also have access to clinical trials that could possibly improve their overall quality of life.
Housing and transportation programs are available for veterans that don’t live near Los Angeles.
UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Located in Los Angeles, California, this public cancer center has treated both veterans and non-veterans for mesothelioma since the 1960s. Its staff of 500 provides comprehensive care to over 20,000 patients each year. It is one of only 47 cancer centers recognized by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
This cancer center focuses on:
- Clinical trials and research
- Experimental cancer treatments
- Standard cancer treatment methods
The center is known for its breakthroughs in treating cancers, including mesothelioma.
MedStar Washington Hospital Center
The MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington D.C. employs some of the top mesothelioma doctors, nurses and staff practicing today.
This public cancer center has multiple cancer-related branches, including:
It has several different cancer-related branches, including:
- The Washington Cancer Institute
- The Center for Gastrointestinal Malignancies
A key link between both branches is Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, who is internationally renowned for his mesothelioma treatment. Dr. Sugarbaker previously served as the medical director for the Washington Cancer Institute and currently spearheads the Center for Gastrointestinal Malignancies.
Today, these cancer facilities focus on treating peritoneal mesothelioma patients through Dr. Sugarbaker’s cytoreduction surgery with HIPEC. In this two-part surgery, doctors remove all visible cancer tumors from the abdomen. Then, the surgery site is bathed in heated chemotherapy to kill any microscopic cancer cells.
With this technique, 60% of patients survive at least 5 years after surgery.
The facilities also have clinical trials available, giving patients other options outside of standard mesothelioma treatments.
Find a Cancer Center Near You
Since mesothelioma is such a rare form of cancer, it needs to be treated at a specialized cancer center. The doctors and medical teams at these facilities have experience treating mesothelioma and will work with you to ensure you get the best treatment possible.
To find a mesothelioma cancer center that is close to you and will fit your needs, contact our veterans advocates today. We can help you file for VA benefits, so you can receive treatment from VA-affiliated mesothelioma specialists.