VA Hospitals for Veterans With Mesothelioma

Quick Summary

Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma can access specialized, affordable treatment through the VA hospital system. Under the direction of highly experienced specialists, mesothelioma programs at VA hospitals can improve the life expectancy and comfort of veterans with mesothelioma. These services are often provided at no cost to the veteran.

Mesothelioma Treatment at VA Hospitals

Since mesothelioma is such a rare condition, most general doctors and hospitals do not have experience diagnosing and treating it. Patients are encouraged to seek the care of a specialist familiar with the disease and up to date on the latest life-prolonging treatments.

It’s estimated that veterans account for up to one-third of all patients diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Due to this alarming statistic, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers specialized treatment at VA facilities. These healthcare facilities employ some of the world’s top mesothelioma specialists.

For qualified veterans, treatment at these centers may be free or require a very low copayment. The service is intended to make quality treatment affordable for those that have served our country.

What Are VA Hospitals?

VA hospitals are health care centers managed by the VA, a federal agency that administers a variety of benefits and healthcare services to eligible veterans.

There are over 1,250 hospitals in the VA healthcare system, including 172 medical centers and 1,069 outpatient clinics. Veterans enrolled in the VA’s healthcare system can receive care at any facility.

Did you know

VA hospitals treat about 9 million veterans every year.

Some VA hospitals offer specialized care for specific conditions while others are only equipped to treat common health problems. While VA hospitals used to have a poor reputation, much has changed.

Today, VA facilities provide the same quality of care as private hospitals, if not better. Since it is a government service, the VA system is even more strictly regulated than the private healthcare sector.

What Services Do VA Hospitals Offer?

At VA hospitals, veterans can access treatment for certain illnesses and injuries as well as preventive care and treatment aimed at improving quality of life.

For the most part, veterans must be enrolled in the VA hospital system to use these services. However, some mental health services are available to veterans not in the system.

VA hospitals provide a wide array of services, including:

  • Emergency services
  • Oncology
  • Surgery
  • Radiology
  • Acute care
  • Mental health services
  • Exams and screenings
  • Immunizations

Some VA hospitals serve as research centers and teaching facilities. This allows veterans to receive treatment from experienced specialists and medical students and gain access to the latest treatment technology.

Veterans can also participate in promising clinical trials to receive treatments not yet approved by the FDA.

This is available through a partnership program between the VA and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The program gives veterans access to new cancer treatments such as precision medicine and immunotherapies.

Mesothelioma Programs at VA Hospitals

While there are many skilled facilities in the VA healthcare system, only a few are equipped to adequately treat mesothelioma. These hospitals offer advanced mesothelioma treatment programs run by world-renowned specialists.

Fortunately, veterans enrolled in the VA system don’t have to pay more to see specialists at these locations than they would at their local VA hospital.

Below are the locations where you can receive mesothelioma treatment at VA hospitals.

Los Angeles VA

The West Los Angeles VA Medical Center treats veterans from all over the country with all stages of mesothelioma.

The center is notable for its advanced lung-sparing surgery techniques and the use of immunotherapy. The LA center also has unique expertise in treating sarcomatoid mesothelioma.

Dr. Robert Cameron, the center’s chief thoracic surgeon, is a leading expert in mesothelioma surgery. He has performed hundreds of these operations on mesothelioma patients to date.

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

Disclaimer

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.

Since mesothelioma does not have a cure, the medical team at the LA VA center treats mesothelioma as a chronic condition.

They avoid using aggressive treatments that can hurt the patient’s quality of life and instead apply daily therapies to slow and manage cancer growth. The team aims to keep their patients comfortable while helping them live as long as possible.

Boston VA

The VA Boston Healthcare System runs several facilities in the Greater Boston area, including campuses and major medical centers.

At their West Roxbury Campus, The Boston VA system houses a special division of General Thoracic Surgery. This surgical unit is uniquely experienced in oncology care for veterans.

Did you know

Surgeons at the West Roxbury Campus perform about 300 thoracic operations every year.

The VA Boston Healthcare System offers a specialized mesothelioma program directed by Dr. Avi Lebenthal.

A veteran himself, Dr. Lebenthal specializes in minimally invasive mesothelioma surgery. He aims to keep recovery times short so that his patients can enjoy a higher quality of life after surgery.

The Boston VA Healthcare System is distinguished for treating malignant pleural mesothelioma as well as peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma.

Patients have several personalized treatment options, including lung-sparing surgery and end-of-life care.

Michael E. DeBakey at Houston VA

The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston also provides comprehensive medical care to veterans. The center has a large residency program that brings in talented and highly educated individuals from all over the country.

There are close to 4,000 skilled professionals providing quality care at the Houston VA Center.

This VA center does not have a mesothelioma program of its own.

Instead, it is closely associated with the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Baylor College of Medicine. Professionals receiving training at the college frequently treat patients at the VA Medical Center.

The late Dr. David Sugarbaker, one of the most renowned mesothelioma specialists, founded The Lung Institute at the college.

The College’s Lung Institute houses the Mesothelioma Treatment Center where a large, multidisciplinary team tailors personalized treatment plans to mesothelioma patients.

The mesothelioma treatment program typically starts with surgery to remove any tumors. After this, doctors will use chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy to target the remaining cancer cells.

The center also provides family-oriented support throughout treatment.

Enrolling in Veterans Health Care

To receive mesothelioma treatment at VA hospitals, veterans must be enrolled in the VA Health Care system. Veterans who are enrolled can seek treatment at any VA hospital and visit any of the mesothelioma specialists in the system.

If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma after serving in the military, you are eligible for VA benefits — these include access to VA hospitals and specialized mesothelioma treatment.

To file a claim with the VA to access your benefits, including mesothelioma treatment at VA hospitals, contact the Mesothelioma Veterans Center today.

Working with a VA-accredited Claims Agent will help your claim get filed quickly so that you can start treatment as soon as possible.

Veterans Support Team
Eic Hall wearing sunglassesReviewed by:Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG)

VA-Accredited Attorney

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG) is an attorney, a former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, and a legal advisor at the Mesothelioma Veterans Center. Today, Eric continues to serve as a Captain in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where he is Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, upholding his dedication to his country and fellow veterans. Eric considers it his duty to help his veteran family and strives to help them navigate the VA and receive the benefits they so bravely earned.

Christopher DryfoosWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos works hard to help veterans with mesothelioma learn how to access the care they need. Using his experiences as a journalist and Boy Scout, he strives to keep our content trustworthy, helpful, and easy to read.

View Sources

“VA Boston Healthcare System” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.boston.va.gov/services/surgical/Asbestos_and_Mesothelioma.asp. Accessed on March 23, 2019.

“Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.houston.va.gov/about/index.asp. Accessed on March 23, 2019.

“Mesothelioma Treatment Center” Baylor College of Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/care-centers/mesothelioma-treatment-center. Accessed on March 23, 2019.

“VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.losangeles.va.gov/services/Mesothelioma.asp. Accessed on March 23, 2019.

“VA Health Care” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/health-care/. Accessed on March 23, 2018.

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