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Exterior views of the VA Boston Healthcare System's three main locations. Different shots of three buildings are shown left to right.

VA Boston Healthcare System

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System (VABHS) is one of America’s top-tier medical facility systems. Veterans can visit the West Roxbury campus to access top mesothelioma treatment and specialists.

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About Boston VA

The Boston VA’s mesothelioma treatment program rivals many of the nation’s top private facilities for cutting-edge treatment and quality patient care.

The major Boston VA medical centers are Jamaica Plain, Brockton, and West Roxbury.

The VA Boston Healthcare System has consistently been rated as one of the nation’s best-funded and administered health facilities. It also has one of the finest mesothelioma treatment centers worldwide.

The Boston VA can help veterans with pleural mesothelioma (the most common type of this cancer). The VA conducts thoracic surgery, experimental research, and clinical trials to help cancer patients. It also teaches medical students about cutting-edge mesothelioma intervention.

Most surgeries are conducted at the West Roxbury Center, while research, clinical trials, and long-term mesothelioma care happen at Jamaica Plain.

Did You Know?

Approximately 300 mesothelioma cases are treated annually at the VABHS.

The VABHS also works with leading cancer hospitals like:

  • The Dana-Faber Cancer Institute
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Boston University School of Medicine
  • Brigham & Women’s Hospital
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research & Information Center (MAVERIC)

One of the main projects between cooperating partners is the International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. It links all information on developing treatment methods for mesothelioma cancer.

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U.S. Military Veterans and Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma is a very rare but highly aggressive form of cancer. Approximately 3,000 new mesothelioma cases are diagnosed in the United States yearly.

A disproportionate number of mesothelioma patients are U.S. military veterans — particularly Navy veterans. Hundreds of thousands of military veterans suffered asbestos exposure (the only known cause of this cancer) during their service.

Asbestos was widely used in all military branches from the 1930s until the early 1980s, when the long-term health hazards from asbestos exposure became well-known.

Asbestos was excellent for fireproofing and insulating military assets like U.S. Navy ships, planes, tanks, and bases.

Many military veterans had daily exposure to very high amounts of asbestos dust during their duties. Chronic exposure increases the likelihood of asbestos fibers being inhaled or ingested.

Because mesothelioma has a 10-50-year latency period, many veterans do not know they’re ill until symptoms become severe. Roughly 1,000 veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.

Fortunately, eligible veterans can be treated for mesothelioma at world-class medical centers like the VA Boston Healthcare System.

VA Boston Healthcare System Staff

Because the VA Boston Healthcare System is well-managed and funded, the center attracts some of the world’s best talent.

Leading doctors from around the globe have worked at VABHS, further enhancing its prestige and reputation for excellence.

A prime example is top thoracic surgeon Dr. Abraham “Avi” Lebenthal, who built the national mesothelioma treatment program at the VAVHS West Roxbury campus (the only VA program of its kind on the East Coast). Dr. Lebenthal spent more than a decade as the program’s director before moving back to his native country of Israel in 2022.

VA Boston Healthcare System patients continue to benefit from the best physicians, surgeons, and support staff dedicated to treating veterans with mesothelioma.

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VABHS staff consists of highly experienced:

  • General thoracic surgeons
  • Surgery residents
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Pulmonologists
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Cardiologists
  • Thoracic anesthesiologists
  • Critical care interventionists
  • Specialized nurses
  • Respiratory care specialists
  • Dedicated social workers

The Boston VA Mesothelioma Treatment Approach

Patients admitted to the VA Boston Healthcare System are initially classified by their mesothelioma diagnosis, including disease stage. This allows staff to develop the right treatment program for an individual patient quickly.

Following this classification, mesothelioma treatment usually takes a multimodal approach.

A multimodal treatment approach involves multiple medical interventions rather than one specific treatment type.

The experienced staff realizes that each patient’s case is unique. What works for one patient may not apply to another despite having the same type of mesothelioma.

A multimodal approach at VABHS may include:

  • Surgery: Common mesothelioma surgeries used include the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), where the entire diseased lung is removed, and pleurectomy with decortication (P/D), where the cancerous lung lining (pleura) is removed but the patient keeps both of their lungs.
  • Radiation: Directly exposing mesothelioma cells to radiation is effective for isolated tumors, which can be stopped without invasive surgery. Radiation is often used in cases of early-stage mesothelioma. It’s also effective when used alongside chemotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is effective for cases of early-stage mesothelioma. This treatment can also be combined with radiation and surgery to help patients.

Learn more about top treatments for mesothelioma and how to access them by calling (866) 608-8933.

Seeking Mesothelioma Treatment at Boston VA

Admission to the VA Boston Healthcare System is open to eligible United States military veterans enrolled in the VA’s health care program. Veterans will likely need to apply for VA benefits to get treatment at this facility if they haven’t done so already.

Although the medical centers are in Boston and primarily intended to serve the New England area, veterans worldwide can get treatment here.

Financial assistance for patients and their families — including travel and lodging — is available through the VA or partnering private support networks.

For more information on how to receive mesothelioma treatment through the VA or another medical center, contact our VA-accredited Claims Agents today.

Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by VA Boston Healthcare System. Any contact information listed is for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact VA Boston Healthcare System directly.

Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

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References
  1. International Mesothelioma Program – a program of hope. IMP International Mesothelioma Program. (n.d.). Retrieved May 15, 2024, from https://impmeso.org/
  2. Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC) & CSP Coordinating Center – Boston, MA. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, February 18). Retrieved May 15, 2024, from https://www.research.va.gov/programs/csp/boston.cfm
  3. Meet your thoracic surgery surgical staff at VA Boston Health Care. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved May 15, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/boston-health-care/programs/meet-your-thoracic-surgery-surgical-staff-at-va-boston-health-care/
  4. Our thoracic surgery team. Thoracic Surgery Team – Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (n.d.). Retrieved May 15, 2024, from https://www.brighamandwomens.org/surgery/thoracic-surgery/our-thoracic-surgery-team
  5. VA Boston Health Care. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved May 15, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/boston-health-care/
  6. VA History Office. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, December 3). Retrieved May 15, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/history/index.asp
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How We Can Help

Mesothelioma Hope is passionate about helping patients and families affected by this aggressive cancer. A mesothelioma diagnosis can be scary and isolating, but we’re here for you at every step. Hope is only a phone call away.

(866) 608-8933
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