Asbestos and Mesothelioma - VA Boston Healthcare System
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VA Boston Healthcare System


Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare asbestos-related disease with approximately 3300 new cases reported in the U.S. annually. Approximately one third of those cases are from the Veteran population. Survival rates for MPM are dependent on stage and therapy. There are few centers in the U.S. that have expertise in treating the full spectrum of mesothelioma and VA Boston Healthcare System is one of them.

For Veterans diagnosed with early or locally advanced MPM, surgery offers the best chance of long-term survival. Centers of excellence in Mesothelioma care are rare causing Veterans to travel great distances in search of therapies to improve their long term outcome. We at VA Boston Health Care System have expertise in diagnosing and developing personalized therapy for Veterans with MPM. We offer patients Radical Pleurectomy and Decortication (P/D), Extra-Pleural Pneumonectomy (EPP) as well as end-of-life options.

As national leaders in treatment of MPM, the VA is honored to provide accessible therapy with minimal co-pays to all Veterans with VA healthcare benefits. At VA Boston we are proud to welcome and treat all eligible Veterans regardless of where they live. Currently we have cared for Veterans with MPM from 15 states.

Our division of General Thoracic Surgery (GTS) at the West Roxbury Campus is unique within the VA system. We are a surgical unit with expertise in oncology care for Veterans and a proven track record of greater than 20 years. Dr.’s Cohen and Lebenthal devote 100% of their time to non-cardiac thoracic surgery. The West Roxbury Campus has the largest complex non-cardiac surgical volume within the VA Healthcare network performing approximately 300 cases annually. Both doctors are fellowship trained at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) by world-renown experts in modern mesothelioma surgery and pioneers in MPM research. Our doctors are affiliated with the internationally acclaimed MPM treatment program at BWH, the International Mesothelioma Program, Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), and the Harvard Medical School. Our doctors hold joint appointments and are productive members in these institutions.

New Patient information
We provide Veterans with advice and care for all aspects and stages of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) and encourage Veterans, families and primary care providers to contact us 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. EST @ 857-203-6202 or Dr. Lebenthal C: 617-909-9121 /

You or your primary care doctor can learn more about our mesothelioma program from any VA healthcare facility in the world - even prior to establishing a service connection for disability.

Preparing for a mesothelioma consultation at the Boston VA

Travel and Housing
The majority of patients seeking expert surgery from VA Boston will need to travel to our West Roxbury facility.

Travel costs
Referring VA facilities will frequently assist in arranging and re-reimbursing travel (airfare for patient and an additional care taker/ family member); eligibility depends on income criteria or service connection.

In the VA Boston Healthcare System we routinely care for patients from all over New England. Housing options for qualifying Veterans and caretakers is offered based on availability.

a. VA Boston Huntington House
b. Fisher House Boston

Additionally, some private organizations may offer travel and lodging assistance.

Upon arrival, additional testing is required to determine a patient’s ability to tolerate an extensive surgery. Age alone is not a limiting factor. As Americans live longer, functional age becomes more important than chronologic age. Our patients participate in lectures where patients and families are educated about Mesothelioma; the disease, prognosis and multiple treatment options. After evaluation, treatment options are discussed by a multidisciplinary board and a personalized solution is tailored for each patient.

At VA Boston we take pride in serving those who served, by fulfilling the VA mission of providing Veterans and families excellent focused and friendly care, advancing the science of Mesothelioma therapy and educating tomorrows’ surgical leaders.

For more information on the Mesothelioma program call 857-203-6202 or Dr. Lebenthal C: 617-909-9121 / 

About Dr. Abraham “Avi” Lebenthal
As a combat seasoned officer, Dr. Abraam “Avi” Lebenthal, a Veteran of the Israeli Defense Force, served in multiple infantry (Army) and elite units. He rose to the rank of Major during his 18 years of service in which he earned a rare personal ‘letter of distinction’ for caring for wounded soldiers under fire, awarded by the commander of Israel’s northern front.

Dr. Abraham “Avi” Lebenthal ” I am proud to have served in the army where I learned many of life lessons such as to lead from the front and by personal example. As an officer one earns the responsibility of completing tasks while simultaneously caring for his men. Life skills learned in the military (Special Operations) are also relevant when surgically treating cancer. When planned and executed precisely the ‘impossible’ becomes possible. As a nation, the most valuable resource we have is our people, morally and ethically we are obliged to provide them with the best possible care, especially our Veterans” - Dr. Lebenthal.

In 2010, Dr. Lebenthal began building a comprehensive mesothelioma program for the West Roxbury campus of VA Boston to provide otherwise inaccessible treatment options to Veterans across the country. This was done by incorporating the strengths of our affiliations with BWH/ IMP/DFCI and Harvard Medical School. He has further defined his mission to bring and facilitate high-level care to all eligible mesothelioma patients. In simple words: ‘to provide the best care anywhere’ to our brothers in arms.

Dr. Lebenthal leads a multidisciplinary mesothelioma care team at the West Roxbury campus of VA Boston. Our patients additionally benefit from the experience of our outstanding staff: general thoracic BWH fellows, BWH/BU surgery residents, dedicated nurse practitioners and physician assistants, pulmonologists, radiologists, nuclear medicine specialists, pathologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, thoracic anesthesiologists, critical care intensivist, specialized nurses, respiratory care, and dedicated social workers. Dr. Lebenthal has been awarded three individual ‘Golden Heart Awards’ in recognition of care provided for out-of-state Veterans with MPM. We are proud to offer 360-degree comprehensive care for all Veterans with mesothelioma before, during and after a potential surgery.

Contact Info


  • West Roxbury Campus Bldg 2, Rm. 115

Contact Number(s)

  • 857-203-6202
  • 617-909-9121

Hours of Operation

  • 7 am - 5 pm