Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System (VABHS) is one of America’s top-tier medical facilities. The VABHS is a series or system of hospitals and medical clinics located throughout the Greater Boston area.

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Led by one of the nation’s top mesothelioma specialists—Dr. Avi Lebenthal—the Boston VA’s mesothelioma treatment program rivals that of many of the nation’s top private facilities for cutting-edge treatment and quality patient care.

About Boston VA

The major Boston VA medical centers are placed in Jamaica Plain, Brockton, and West Roxbury. Each center has a particular specialty. The West Roxbury center accounts for surgical procedures with a specialty in spinal cord injuries. Brockton’s VA center acts for inpatient psychiatry, transitional and chronic care as well as hospice accommodation. Jamaica Plain’s center is a cancer and subspecialty facility. It has one of America’s finest staff and equipment to treat pleural mesothelioma.

The VABHS has consistently been rated as one of the best funded and administered health facilities in the nation. It also has one of the finest mesothelioma treatment centers worldwide.

The Boston VA facility carries out every mesothelioma treatment available. That includes thoracic surgery, experimental research, clinical trials and teaching medical students on cutting-edge mesothelioma intervention. Most surgeries are conducted at the West Roxbury center while research, clinical trials and long-term mesothelioma care happens at Jamaica Plain.

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Mesothelioma Justice Network Brief

Approximately 300 mesothelioma cases are treated annually at the VABHS.

Part of the VA Boston Healthcare System involves other Boston area medical facilities. One of the main common 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.

The VABHS is closely associated with these fine faculties and cancer treatment agencies:

  • 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)

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. However, a disproportionate number of mesothelioma patients are U.S. military veterans—particularly navy vets. That’s because the leading cause of mesothelioma is due to airborne asbestos fiber exposure.

Hundreds of thousands of military veterans suffered asbestos exposure during their service. Asbestos was widely used in all military branches from pre-World War II until the early 1980s when the long-term health hazards from asbestos exposure became well-known. Asbestos was an excellent material for fireproofing and insulating military equipment like ships, planes, and tanks and was used in constructing military base structures.

Many military veterans had daily exposure to intolerable amounts of asbestos dust during their duties. Chronic exposure increased the likelihood of asbestos fibers being inhaled or ingested into the lungs or abdomen of nearby veterans. Over time, many veterans developed deep scarring and inflammation in their tissues, and many have since developed mesothelioma.

Because mesothelioma has a 10-50-year latency period, many veterans have no idea they’re ill until symptoms become so severe that they’re eventually diagnosed with mesothelioma. Fortunately, all eligible veterans can be treated for mesothelioma at world-leading medical centers like the VA Boston Healthcare System.

VA Boston Healthcare System Staff

Because the VA Boston Healthcare System is so well managed and funded, the center attracts some of the world’s best talent. Doctors, nurses, researchers and support staff from across America and around the world work and learn at the VABHS, further enhancing the VABHS’ prestige and reputation for excellence.

A prime example of excellence is Dr. Abraham “Avi” Lebenthal. Dr. Lebenthal is one of the top thoracic surgeons who specialize in mesothelioma treatment. As a former Israeli military surgeon, Dr. Lebenthal has a unique perspective on veteran care, being able to compassionately empathize with the challenges veterans face.

Dr. Lebenthal is also highly skilled, having studied under the world-class mesothelioma surgeon, the late Dr. David Sugarbaker at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. Both of these top surgeons have held tenure at Harvard Medical School and tutor tomorrow’s mesothelioma experts.

VA Boston Healthcare System patients benefit from the very best support staff found anywhere. Together, they form a multidisciplinary mesothelioma team.

VABHS staff consists of highly experienced professionals in these specialized roles:

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

The VA Boston Healthcare System Multimodal Approach

Patients admitted to the VA Boston healthcare System are initially classified by their mesothelioma diagnosis, including location and disease stage. This triage allows staff to quickly develop the right treatment program for an individual patient. Following this classification, mesothelioma treatment usually takes a multimodal approach.

A multimodal treatment approach involves two or more medical interventions rather than one specific treatment type. The experienced staff realizes that each patient case is unique. What works for one patient may not be applicable to another despite their having the same form of mesothelioma.

These are the common mesothelioma treatment methods that are intertwined in a multimodal approach at VABHS:

  • Surgery: Doctors at the VABHS are some of the most experienced and talented mesothelioma surgeons available. Common mesothelioma surgeries are extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) where the entire diseased lung is removed, and radical pleurectomy and decortication (P/D) where only the disease pleura is removed.
  • Radiation: Directly exposing mesothelioma cells to radiation is effective for isolated tumors, which can be stopped without invasive surgery. Radiation is often a primary resort in early-stage mesothelioma. It’s also effective when used alongside chemotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy: Treating mesothelioma with chemotherapy is also effective for early-stage mesothelioma. Combined with radiation, these two treatments are front-line processes and are often combined with surgery.

Seeking Treatment at Boston VA Healthcare System

Admission to the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System is open to all eligible United States military veterans enrolled in the VA’s Healthcare System. Although the medical centers are in Boston and primarily intended to serve the New England area, American veterans from across the country and around the world attend this advanced and professional facility. Financial assistance for patients and their families travel and lodging is available through VA or partnering private support networks.

For more information on how to receive compensation for mesothelioma treatment, contact our VA Accredited Claims Agents today. Filing for VA benefits after a mesothelioma diagnosis is critical. However, many veterans don’t have the support and assistance they need when filing their claims. VA Accredited Claims Agents are professionals in reviewing veteran cases and work history, and putting together claims that will result in timely and successful processing.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: May 22, 2019

View 4 Sources
  1. United States Department of Veterans Affairs, “VA Boston Healthcare System”, Retrieved from
    Accessed on February 1, 2018
  2. Mesothelioma Veterans, “Cancer Centers in Boston” Accessed on February 1, 2018
  3. Mesothelioma Group, VA Treatment Center in Boston”, Accessed on February 1, 2018
  4. Boston University School of Medicine, “Boston VA Medical Center”
    Accessed on February 1, 2018
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