VA treatment hospitals provide affordable medical care to veterans, prisoners of war and active personnel in all branches of the military. With a large staff of oncologists, radiologists and surgical experts, the VA offers veterans advanced medical care comparable to the treatment offered by prestigious cancer centers in the private sector. Collectively, the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System treats three million veterans every year. With 152 medical centers and 1,400 clinics located in most major cities, the VA operates the largest national healthcare network. While many large cities have VA clinics and medical centers, not all specialize in treating cancer and mesothelioma. In this case, your local VA clinic will refer you to a regional medical center.
Veterans represent approximately 30 percent of all mesothelioma cases, and the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System provides medical care for many of these vets. Most VA clinics can diagnose mesothelioma and arrange treatment at an affiliated medical center that specializes in advanced procedures. In 2000, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Cancer Institute joined forces to increase patient access to clinical trials, new diagnostic procedures and treatment programs sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. Today, veterans eligible for VA health care coverage can obtain life-saving mesothelioma treatments at VA facilities nationwide. In select cases, patients may be eligible to enroll in NCI-sponsored trials in private-sector facilities as well.
Below are four of the regional medical centers that currently perform major surgical procedures, radiation therapy and provide specialty oncology services for patients with pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.
The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas, is one of several VA treatment hospitals that specialize in radiation therapy. Introduced in 2010, the facility's latest investment is a state-of-the-art Philips Wide Bore Computed Tomography (CT) Simulator that reduces treatment time to 30 minutes per session. This advanced cancer-fighting technology allows radiotherapy specialists to fully map out and visualize mesothelioma tumors, so the same malignancies are targeted in every customized treatment. The advanced CT system allows doctors to better target tumors and protect healthy organs and tissue. Completely revamped in 1991, this VA mesothelioma treatment center is staffed by students, residents and faculty members from Baylor's College of Medicine.
The Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System recently received a pledge of $500,000, which will be given to the organization over the next three years. This generous pledge was made by a group of advocates for mesothelioma patients in order to advance research on the disease. The pledge will help pay for innovative mesothelioma research directed by Dr. Robert B. Cameron, who is the Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the Wadsworth Veterans Administration Hospital, which is also known as the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. As director of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA, Dr. Cameron is leading innovative efforts toward developing effective therapeutic management strategies and long-sparing treatments for patients with malignant mesothelioma. The Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System has an independent cancer research center, which conducts periodic clinical trials for mesothelioma.
The Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center features an accredited, 240-bed hospital that is affiliated with several satellite clinics and regional medical offices in Arkansas and Mississippi. This advanced medical center is staffed by students, faculty and fellowship members from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis. This state-of-the-art medical center offers a variety of specialty services, which are performed by an advanced oncology department and team of radiation experts. The facility also has palliative pain management programs and a surgical team that specializes in advanced endoscopic procedures. Every year, thousands of veterans receive medical treatment from this state-of-the-art medical center.
The Minneapolis VA Medical Center has one of the most advanced specialty care divisions in the northern Midwest. This specialty care system includes a complete range of surgical experts that have made Minneapolis the regional referral center for many advanced surgical procedures. The Minneapolis VA Medical Center provides mesothelioma patients with complete cancer care services, including a team of oncologists and experts in radiation therapy. The Cancer Care Clinic at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center features an independent chemotherapy infusion center with interdisciplinary services to help reduce mortality rates while allowing individuals to receive care on an outpatient basis.
To learn more about securing health care benefits, navigating the VA application process, contact us today. We work with Carl Jewett, a retired Navy veteran and the Executive Director of the Veterans Assistance Network, to help mesothelioma patients secure VA health care benefits.