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Dr. Avi Lebenthal

Dr. Avi Lebenthal

Because mesothelioma is so rare and the diagnosis and management of the disease can be complex, the mesothelioma patient would do well to see a specialist in the area of mesothelioma. There are several mesothelioma specialists in the country that regularly treat mesothelioma patients and know the results of the latest research in the field of mesothelioma treatment. One of these specialists is Dr. Abraham (Avi) Lebenthal.

Many mesothelioma patients are veterans who were exposed to asbestos while serving in the military. Fortunately, there is help for these mesothelioma sufferers by seeing Dr. Avi Lebenthal. He is a medical physician and one of the few pulmonary specialists in the field of mesothelioma within the Veterans Administration system. Dr. Lebenthal practices in the Boston, Massachusetts area and sees patients with a variety of conditions, including mesothelioma in the Boston VA Medical Center and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, also located in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Avi Lebenthal undertook his medical training at the Hebrew University, located in Jerusalem, Israel. He graduated in 1993 and began his medical training shortly thereafter. He performed his residency training, with an emphasis on thoracic surgery, at the Hadassah Ein Karem University and completed his training there in 2003. Dr. Lebenthal furthered his medical training in the United States and received training at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, New York. While in this training, Dr. Lebenthal studied general surgery in order to be able to care for a variety of surgical patients.

Following his training in general surgery, Dr. Lebenthal furthered his education in the field of thoracic surgery during a fellowship he undertook at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He remained in the Boston area and became Board Certified in general surgery in 2004. He set up a practice in Boston, where he continues to see patients with thoracic surgical problems, including patients suffering from mesothelioma.

Dr. Avi Lebenthal Treats Veterans with Mesothelioma

Throughout his work at the Boston VA Medical Center, Dr. Avi Lebenthal has become one of the few specialists in the VA medical system who treat veterans that received asbestos exposure while in the military and became afflicted with mesothelioma as a result. His area of expertise in caring for mesothelioma patients is within minimally invasive surgery, which he feels is better for patients with mesothelioma. The recovery time with less invasive procedures is shorter after surgery and patients have a better quality of life after undergoing this type of surgery.

While Dr. Avi Lebenthal sees a variety of patients with thoracic surgical problems, he has a special interest in thoracic mesothelioma and treats many veterans who, during their military career, became exposed to asbestos, which is the primary reason behind the development of mesothelioma. As a surgeon, Dr. Lebenthal is responsible for the surgical management of patients suffering from pleural mesothelioma in the thoracic cavity.

As there are many different ways to manage mesothelioma, Dr. Lebenthal has trained in a variety of therapeutic approaches to treating mesothelioma, including the following:

  • He performs the pleurectomy with decortication surgery. This is a type of surgery that does not remove much of the healthy lung tissue, but instead removes any visible evidence of mesothelioma in the thoracic cavity, particularly that which is located on the pleural lining. By sparing healthy lung tissue, the patients have fewer breathing related complications following this procedure.
  • He performs video-assisted thoracic surgery. This is when an endoscope is inserted into the pleural space through tiny incisions in the thorax. The endoscope has a tiny video camera at the end of a tube that also has surgical instruments that assist in removing various types of lung cancer, including mesothelioma.
  • He is an expert in laparoscopy. This is a procedure performed using a laparoscope inserted into tiny incisions made in the abdominal or thoracic cavity. The entire surgery is done using a camera to see the tumor and instruments that remove the tumor without having to make a big chest or abdominal incision. This shortens recovery time after surgery to a great degree.
  • He makes use of a newer form of treatment, known as photodynamic therapy. The photodynamic therapy uses a light source directed at the tumor to allow the immunotherapy and chemotherapy drugs to treat the mesothelioma more effectively against the cancer.

Because of Dr. Lebenthal’s experience as a physician in the Israeli Army as a military physician, he feels he has a special connection to men and women veterans who, during their military career, were exposed to asbestos many years ago and who now have developed one of the complications of asbestos exposure, particularly pleural mesothelioma.

Dr. Avi Lebenthal is the director of the mesothelioma program at the Boston VA Healthcare System, where he treats many veterans suffering from the disease. He is fluent in several languages, including English, Arabic, Hebrew and Spanish. He uses his experience as a former battalion physician in the Israeli Army to reach out to American Veterans who, as part of their service, were exposed to mesothelioma-causing asbestos. He is also a member of the International Mesothelioma Program, which helps in putting together research efforts worldwide to treat the disease.

Dr. Lebenthal also sees patients with mesothelioma at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Because of his involvement, this hospital is considered to be a major center for the treatment of mesothelioma patients across the United States. If a patient is a veteran with mesothelioma, the doctor treats them at the nearby Boston VA Healthcare Center. Mesothelioma care is covered under most veteran’s medical benefits.

Advantages of Seeing Dr. Avi Lebenthal

One of the advantages of seeing Dr. Avi Lebenthal is that he is the only VA-associated mesothelioma specialist on the East Coast of the United States. Because veterans are required to use their VA medical benefits for diseases they contracted as part of their service, they need to see a surgeon affiliated with the Veteran’s Administration. Dr. Lebenthal has the expertise and VA connections to see these types of patients.

Also, Dr. Lebenthal was once a veteran himself and he understands the medical issues many veterans are forced to deal with after asbestos exposure in the military. He channels his own personal commitment to care for veterans who have mesothelioma.  

“As an officer, I learned the importance of service, dedication and commitment to a larger cause,” Dr. Lebenthal stated.

Veterans with mesothelioma can use their VA medical benefits, which can pay for the treatment of the disease through the VA system. This is substantially less costly than similar treatment available at a non-veteran’s hospital. Even if patients don’t live near Boston, they can work with Dr. Lebenthal’s team of mesothelioma patients advocates and those with previous experience with veteran’s medical claims.

The VA system in Boston treats many patients with mesothelioma who do not live in the immediate area and stay temporarily at one of the area’s facilities for housing patients coming from out of state. This allows mesothelioma patients from across the United States to make use of the services of Dr. Avi Lebenthal, who manages the medical care of mesothelioma patients in various stages of recovery.

Sources & Author Edited: May 16, 2016

About the Writer

Senior Veteran Support Team

The Mesothelioma Veterans Center was created to provide information and assistance to veterans regarding treatment, clinical trials, and VA benefits for veterans suffering from asbestos illnesses. The MVC was founded by retired veterans and veterans advocates who have helped hundreds of veterans get approved for their VA benefits after developing mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer from their asbestos exposure in the military.

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