Veterans Mesothelioma Treatment at West Los Angeles VA

Summary

U.S. Military Veterans receiving mesothelioma treatment at West Los Angeles VA work with teams guided by Dr. Robert Cameron—one of the best mesothelioma experts in the country. Veterans mesothelioma treatment takes place in the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

About West Los Angeles VA

West Los Angeles VA is a top treatment center for military veterans to receive mesothelioma care. It’s part of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS)—one of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ largest healthcare facilities.

VAGLAHS is a comprehensive treatment center home to:

  • 2 ambulatory care facility
  • 1 tertiary care hospital
  • 8 outpatient clinics

VAGLAHS serves more than 1.4 million veterans in Los Angeles, Ventura, Kern, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

VAGLAHS is also a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs medical education program. More than 500 residents, interns and other students are trained in the different hospitals throughout the year. These students come from UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and USC School of Medicine, as well as many other colleges, universities and vocational schools.

Treating All Mesothelioma Types

One thing that is unique about West Los Angeles VA is that it is one few places equipped to treat every type of mesothelioma, including sarcomatoid. The hospital is also known for its multimodal treatment approach that combines pleurectomy/decortication surgery with cryoablation and immunotherapy.

U.S. Military Veterans and Mesothelioma

The VA has invested in developing one of the nation’s top mesothelioma treatment programs because one-third of mesothelioma patients are veterans. Having a comprehensive and highly specialized mesothelioma treatment program within the VA healthcare system gives veterans with mesothelioma access to high-quality, affordable healthcare.

While not all veterans choose to pursue mesothelioma treatment through the VA, for many the option is a major advantage.

West Los Angeles VA Location and Overview

Here is what veterans should know about working with West Los Angeles VA:

  • The program is run by Dr. Robert Cameron, creator of a lung-sparing surgery (pleurectomy with decortication) and one of the top mesothelioma experts in North America.
  • Patients receive multimodal treatment that includes long-term maintenance to minimize recurrence (when the cancer comes back).
  • The West Los Angeles VA specialists are experts at treating sarcomatoid mesothelioma—the least common type of mesothelioma and the most difficult to manage.

The West Los Angeles VA Mesothelioma Cancer Treatment Center is located at:

Building 500—Room 6601
11301 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 478-3711 (main building)
(310) 268-4543 (mesothelioma cancer treatment)

Mesothelioma Specialists at West Los Angeles VA

Patients working with West Los Angeles VA Healthcare System have the advantage of working with Dr. Robert Cameron—one of 2 top mesothelioma specialists working with military veterans.

Robert Cameron, MD

Dr. Cameron is currently the head of the UCLA Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program and the Mesothelioma Program at the West Los Angeles VA. Both of these programs are highly respected mesothelioma treatment centers in the United States.

The UCLA Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program is often considered the best program of its kind on the West Coast because of Dr. Cameron’s guidance and vision as he built up these programs.

In addition to being the heads of those two programs, Dr. Cameron is also the co-founder and former director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation—the first medical research foundation to specialize in mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Cameron has been treating pleural mesothelioma for more than 20 years and has made many contributions to mesothelioma treatment development, including:

  • Developing the pleurectomy/decortication procedure, which he has performed on more than 300 patients
  • Writing or co-authoring more than 35 peer-reviewed papers in oncology, thoracic surgery and other related subjects, making him an authority in mesothelioma treatment and research

Treatments Offered at West Los Angeles VA

Across the country, experts agree that the best way to treat mesothelioma is with a multimodal approach. This means patients will see a variety of different experts in different fields who are working together to ensure that patients have the best possible quality of life.

West Los Angeles VA Treatment Update

While treatment plans look slightly different for each patient, at the West Los Angeles VA it follows the basic path of surgery, radiation and long-term maintenance. As part of the patient’s long-term support, they will be seen for a follow-up visit every 3-6 months and will receive regular CT scans so their medical team can catch the cancers return as early as possible.

Mesothelioma patients undergoing treatment at West Los Angeles VA may receive the following therapies:

  • Pleurectomy/Decortication (P/D): In this lung-sparing surgery, the surgeon carefully removes the lung’s lining from the lung to remove tumors. Because mesothelioma spreads like a sheet throughout the lining instead of clumping up into one large tumor, it is impossible for the surgeon to remove all of the cancer without risking damage to the patient’s heart, lungs, major blood vessels, diaphragm and ribs. Which is why in a P/D surgery, the surgeon is only trying to remove the visible cancer, which means some tumor will be left behind.
  • Bronchial and Esophageal Stent Insertion: Other surgical procedures that patients at West Los Angeles VA might undergo are inserting bronchial (airway) or esophageal stents which help the patient breath by opening up areas that may have narrowed because of the tumors.
  • Video-Assisted Thorascopic Surgery (VATS): To determine whether a patient has epitheliod, mixed and sarcomatoid mesothelioma, a surgeon will remove a small part of the diseased lung through 3 small incisions.
  • Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): In IMRT, a computer is used to control x-ray accelerators to give a high-level dosage of radiation directly to the tumor while minimizing the damage to the surrounding tissues.
  • Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT): SBRT, which is also known as radiosurgery, happens over a relatively short period (less than two weeks instead of between 6-8 weeks like many other radiotherapies). In this procedure, the patient is given a highly concentrated dose of radiation via image-guided localization to kill the tumor without severely damaging the healthy organs.
  • Cryoablation: In cryoablation, the tumor is frozen with a gas that is pumped through a tiny needle called the cryoprobe. This freezing process kills the cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells by circulating them through the blood. However, one of the problems with chemotherapy is that it identifies cancer cells as cells that are actively growing and dividing, which means it also attacks some normal cells like hair cells or the cells that line the digestive system because those cells also multiply and divide more quickly than other cells.
  • Immunotherapy: In immunotherapy, a patient is given specialized drugs to stimulate the body’s immune system so it can kill cancer cells. Immunotherapy shows the immune system how to recognize cancer cells and teaches the body how to fight them.

Getting Mesothelioma Treatment at West Los Angeles VA

Veterans who wish to be treated for mesothelioma at West Los Angeles VA don’t need to worry if they don’t live in one of the 5 counties that the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System serves. The mesothelioma program accepts veterans from across the country due to the specialized nature of the disease. However, veterans do need to be enrolled in the Veterans Affairs healthcare system, which doesn’t always happen automatically.

To receive help going through this process contact the Mesothelioma Justice Network at 1-855-213-3577 and we’ll connect you with a VA Claims Agent.

Order our free Mesothelioma Justice Guide today to learn more about how veterans can qualify for VA benefits to cover their treatment costs.

View Author and Sources
Sources
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  2. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. "About the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System." Retrieved from: https://www.losangeles.va.gov/about/index.asp. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Compensation." Retrieved from: https://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-exposures-asbestos.asp. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  4. Pacific Heart Lung & Blood Institute. "Dr. Robert Cameron, MD." Retrieved from: http://www.phlbi.org/about/scientificadvisoryboard/dr-cameron/. Accessed May 15, 2018.
  5. Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute. "Multi-Modal Management of Pleural Mesothelioma." Retrieved from: http://www.phlbi.org/blog/2012/01/dr-robert-cameron-on-treating-mesothelioma-novel-multi-modal-approach/. Accessed May 15, 2018.
  6. Canadian Cancer Society. "Chemotherapy." Retrieved from: http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/diagnosis-and-treatment/chemotherapy-and-other-drug-therapies/chemotherapy/?region=on. Accessed on May 15, 2018.
  7. Mayo Clinic. "Cryoablation for Cancer." Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cryoablation-for-cancer/about/pac-20385216. Accessed May 15, 2018.
  8. J Bras Pneumol. "Stereotactic body radiotherapy in lung cancer: an update." 2015 Jul-Aug; 41(4): 376–387. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635958/#. Accessed May 15, 2018.

Last modified: May 29, 2018