Help for Mesothelioma Patients at VA Hospitals
It’s believed that U.S. veterans make up 33% of all patients diagnosed with mesothelioma, a very aggressive type of cancer, since asbestos was commonly used by the U.S. military before the risks were well-known.
Thankfully, several cancer centers within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system have the ability to treat veterans with mesothelioma.
If you developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos in the military, you may be able to access low-cost or free health care at a VA mesothelioma treatment center along with other veterans benefits.
Download your copy of our Free Veterans Compensation Guide to learn more about the many resources available to former military members with mesothelioma.
What Do VA Mesothelioma Treatment Centers Offer?
Mesothelioma is a relatively uncommon disease, and only some doctors specialize in its treatment. Fortunately, the VA network includes comprehensive cancer centers where veterans can be treated by some of the world’s leading mesothelioma specialists.
The VA has almost 1,300 health care facilities throughout the U.S. that treat millions of former service members each year. Qualifying veterans can visit any one they want — they don’t have to register with one particular facility to receive mesothelioma VA treatment.
Not every VA hospital will offer mesothelioma treatment, however, so patients should check ahead of time to make sure they can get the care they need.
In addition to treatments, VA medical centers may also provide:
- Critical care
- Hospice care
- Mental health counseling
- Palliative care
- Pathology (lab work)
- Physical therapy
- Primary care
Veterans treated at VA mesothelioma cancer centers may also be able to participate in clinical trials and receive emerging treatments that are not yet available elsewhere.
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There are several world-renowned doctors that work with the VA to treat mesothelioma. The VA will recognize any asbestos-related disease, as long as your asbestos exposure happened while you were on active duty in the military.
If you have questions about mesothelioma treatment, we encourage you to reach out to MesotheliomaHope.com to speak with our nurses on staff, who can talk to you about the various treatments and connect you with world-renowned doctors who treat mesothelioma.
VA Mesothelioma Treatment Centers vs. Private Hospitals
The VA typically grants veterans with mesothelioma a 100% disability rating. Many veterans have little to no copays at VA mesothelioma treatment centers. Veterans with mesothelioma are also considered high priority for care, so they typically have shorter wait times.
In contrast, treatment at a private cancer center can be expensive, and veterans don’t necessarily get priority care.
A study conducted by RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, found that VA hospitals and outpatient services were of higher quality than private civilian ones.
Have a question about VA mesothelioma treatment centers? Chat with one of our veteran-friendly Patient Advocates now to get the answers you need.
Top VA Mesothelioma Treatment Centers
Veterans who register with the VA health care system can get care at any VA hospital in the country, and there are several that have experts on staff who can treat mesothelioma.
Below are just a few examples of top VA medical centers that are specially equipped to treat veterans with mesothelioma.
VA Atlanta Healthcare System in Georgia
The VA Atlanta Healthcare System is made up of 22 facilities, including the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur and 21 outpatient clinics in northeastern Georgia.
Since 1985, the Atlanta VA Medical Center has been partnered with the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University — the only cancer center in Georgia directly supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Winship’s thoracic oncology program, which focuses on treating cancers of the chest, is headed by some of the top minds in the field.
Dr. Seth Force, the program’s director of thoracic oncology, specializes in advanced chest procedures and robotic surgery.
VA Boston Healthcare System in Massachusetts
The VA Boston Healthcare System spans eight locations and serves four counties. Its three main facilities — Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center, Brockton VA Medical Center, and West Roxbury VA Medical Center — are supplemented by five community outpatient clinics.
Harvard Medical School and the Boston University School of Medicine each have affiliations with the VA Boston Healthcare System. These partnerships have allowed veterans with mesothelioma to get help from leading cancer doctors and researchers, including Dr. Abraham “Avi” Lebenthal.
Dr. Lebenthal created the national mesothelioma treatment program at the VA’s West Roxbury Campus and served as its director for more than 10 years before returning to his native country of Israel in 2022.
The Boston VA also works with leading private facilities such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital and The Dana-Faber Cancer Institute.
The VA Boston Healthcare System is also one of the few health care networks that has the equipment and expertise to perform various types of mesothelioma surgeries, including extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy with decortication (P/D).
VA Houston Healthcare System in Texas
The VA Houston Healthcare System consists of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) and 11 outpatient clinics located across southeastern Texas.
The VA Houston Healthcare System is a top choice for Texas veterans with mesothelioma due to its partnerships with Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. The NCI has recognized this cancer center as one of America’s top treatment facilities.
Further, the Baylor College of Medicine’s Lung Institute treats a range of respiratory conditions, including mesothelioma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer.
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System in California
The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System has 11 locations that cover five counties. It includes the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, the Sepulveda VA Medical Center, and nine outpatient clinics.
Dr. Robert Cameron, who invented P/D surgery for treating pleural mesothelioma, treats veterans through the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
Dr. Cameron is the Founding Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. He is also the founder and director of UCLA’s Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program.
Miami VA Healthcare System in Florida
Headed by the Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center, the Miami VA Healthcare System includes eight outpatient facilities and treats about 63,000 veterans in South Florida.
The Miami VA Healthcare System is primarily affiliated with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, where many of its VA physicians serve as faculty members.
Contact a Patient Advocate at (866) 608-8933 now to get help accessing mesothelioma treatment at a VA facility near you.
Mesothelioma Treatment Options at VA Medical Centers
Aggressive cancers like mesothelioma require specific treatments that general hospitals might not have the staff or equipment to provide. Fortunately, VA mesothelioma treatment centers can help veterans get the specialized cancer care they need.
Although there is currently no cure for mesothelioma, there are treatment options that can help veterans live more comfortably and improve their prognosis (health outlook).
Treatments offered through VA mesothelioma cancer centers include:
- Chemotherapy: Common in cancer treatment, chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop them from dividing. Mesothelioma chemotherapy drugs can be taken by mouth or intravenously, or they can be released into the chest or abdominal cavity through a small catheter.
- Cytoreduction with HIPEC: This is arguably the most effective treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma (which forms in the abdominal lining). It combines cytoreductive surgery to remove cancer tumors with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), which kills microscopic cancer cells. Patients can often live for 4 years or more with this treatment.
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): During an extrapleural pneumonectomy, the surgeon removes the cancerous lung, parts of the lining of the lungs and heart, and the diaphragm. This procedure is used to treat patients in the early stages of malignant pleural mesothelioma (which forms in the lung lining).
- Immunotherapy: With the help of certain medications, the body can fight malignant mesothelioma with its own immune system. Immunotherapy helps the body protect itself from cancer cells and is often combined with surgery or chemotherapy.
- Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D): Pleurectomy with decortication is also used to treat early-stage malignant pleural mesothelioma. P/D aims to remove the mesothelioma tumors from the lining of the lungs without removing the lung itself, making it a less intense alternative to an EPP.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses X-rays or other types of radiation to destroy cancer cells or prevent them from spreading. This is one of the least invasive types of mesothelioma treatment.
Your specific mesothelioma treatment plan will depend on factors like your cell type and stage of mesothelioma.
Learn more about your treatment options in our Free Mesothelioma Guide — order now and we’ll send it to you overnight.
Get Help Starting Treatment at a VA Cancer Center
If you served in the U.S. military and were not dishonorably discharged, you may be able to get VA health care for mesothelioma and receive treatments from top cancer centers.
Our team of fellow veterans and Patient Advocates can determine if you’re eligible for VA benefits right now and then help file your claim.
Don’t wait. The sooner you file, the sooner you can start receiving the specialized treatment you need to fight this aggressive cancer.
Contact us today — we’re standing by to help you access VA health care and other mesothelioma benefits.
Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Robert B. Cameron. You have the right to contact Dr. Cameron directly.
VA Mesothelioma Treatment Centers FAQs
Why are U.S. veterans at risk of mesothelioma?
The main cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Since asbestos was widely used in U.S. military ships, bases, and vehicles from the 1930s to early 1980s, those who served during that period may have been exposed to asbestos.
Since it takes 10-50 years after asbestos exposure for mesothelioma to develop, veterans exposed decades ago may just be getting sick now.
Where can veterans get mesothelioma treatment?
Veterans can receive mesothelioma treatment at both private and VA health care facilities. Most veterans qualify for free or low-cost VA health care for mesothelioma, which can offer peace of mind to families living on a fixed income.
Along with specialized doctors and surgeons, VA mesothelioma treatment centers have a wide range of in-house services for veterans, including mental health care, nutrition counseling, vision care, and much more.
What can the VA do for veterans with mesothelioma?
The VA offers veterans with mesothelioma a wide range of benefits, including top-notch treatment from some of the best cancer specialists in the world and monthly financial payouts.
To qualify for VA health care and other benefits, you must not have been dishonorably discharged and meet other eligibility requirements (such as serving for a specific length of time).
The team at Mesothelioma Hope can confirm your eligibility and help you access mesothelioma VA treatment. Call (866) 608-8933 now to connect with a Patient Advocate.