JUMP TO A TOPIC
More About Mesothelioma Treatment Through VA Houston Health Care
VA Houston Health Care is known by two other names in regards to mesothelioma care:
- Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
- Houston VA Medical Center
The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center opened in May of 2021. Mesothelioma patients visiting the VA Houston Health Care System will receive high-end medical care not offered for this cancer at most VA hospitals. The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center offers screening, aggressive treatment options, and clinical trials to bring cutting-edge cancer care to veterans with mesothelioma. The only other two VA medical centers with mesothelioma treatment programs are the Boston VA Medical Center and Los Angeles VA Medical Center.
The Houston VA Medical Center features three mesothelioma specialists who all work full time at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Two of the specialists focus on pleural mesothelioma while one treats peritoneal mesothelioma.
Dr. Lorraine Cornwell is Section Head of General Thoracic Surgery at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. She’s the primary doctor veterans will see if they have mesothelioma near the lungs.
“We hope the program now encompassing more detailed research and input … will attract more patients, even from a potentially nationwide referral board,” Dr. Cornwell said. She later added, “This disease is one that’s rare enough and complicated enough where we do see people traveling some distance. A number of our veterans come from other states.”
The Houston VA Medical Center began treating veterans cases of mesothelioma in 2020. It is the newest facility to start a mesothelioma program specifically for veterans.
- Dr. Taylor Ripley, Director of Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center
- Dr. Lorraine Cornwell, Section Head of General Thoracic Surgery at Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
- Dr. Eugene Choi, Surgical Oncologist at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Houston VA
- Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center
- Baylor College of Medicine
- Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center
- Pleurectomy/decortication surgery
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery
- Cytoreduction surgery with HIPEC
Get Connected to VA Houston Health Care System
The VA Houston Health Care System is one of just three VA medical systems offering personalized care for mesothelioma. The Houston VA medical center works with three doctors from Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. This partnership provides veterans with next-level medical attention for their rare cancer.
Why Choose Houston VA Medical Center?
- Surgery available for each main type of mesothelioma
- VA health benefits cover patient costs in most cases
- Doctors with experience treating veterans with cancer
Urgent Need for More Mesothelioma VA Medical Centers
Veterans are the most likely group to get mesothelioma (outside of age or gender). Up to 3,000 people in the United States learn each year from a doctor that they have malignant mesothelioma cancer. Around 30% of these cases involve veterans.
Asbestos was a prominent aspect of military service. Tanks, aircraft, barracks and ships were constructed with the durable substance, and foreign military service led to asbestos exposure from houses and other buildings.
The prevalence of veterans mesothelioma cases explains the need for VA medical centers with mesothelioma treatment and doctors. Each coast has a center for veterans, but a lot of patients not near Los Angeles or Boston were left with no option.
Houston’s VA Medical Center provides a medical facility to all veterans in Texas or neighboring states. The center serves 28 counties in and around Houston. Many of the counties are rural, but veterans with mesothelioma can be confident that the travel is worth it for the state-of-the-art facilities and the expertise of the doctors.
An example of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center’s innovation is the Lung Precision Oncology Program (LPOP), which started when the VA center opened in 2021. Doctors have made 30 lung cancer diagnoses of veterans, according to the Houston VA website, and more than 90% of them were found in the early stage, when it is easiest to treat and cure.
Doctors Experienced Working With Veterans
Dr. Cornwell has more than a decade of experience treating veterans with thoracic cancers. She described herself as “very experienced with how the VA works,” which is a benefit for veterans needing to go through the VA health care process. Her focus is pleural mesothelioma.
Dr. Cornwell said that pleurectomy/decortication surgery will be offered for pleural mesothelioma patients.
Dr. Eugene Choi is the primary care provider for veterans with peritoneal mesothelioma, or mesothelioma of the abdomen. He leads treatment for patients wanting cytoreductive surgery with heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) for peritoneal mesothelioma cases.
Dr. Taylor Ripley oversees treatment at the VA medical center as Director of Mesothelioma Treatment at Baylor St. Luke’s.
“Once we have all that information, we see the patient again … and try to lay out a treatment plan moving forward.”
Veterans Advocate Can Help You Go to the Houston VA
Carl Jewett is a retired lieutenant commander of the U.S. Navy. He served in the brand for more than two decades and now dedicates his professional life to helping veterans apply for financial benefits and receive VA health care treatment. If you’re a veteran or the loved one of a veteran and hoping to visit the Houston VA medical center for treatment, Carl Jewett is the best ally for helping you see the specialist team at the center.
Commander Jewett’s email is email@example.com. Another option is to request a free Veterans Guide packet in the mail. This packet has detailed information on all of the VA centers offering mesothelioma care.
Sources & Author
- VA Houston health care. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from: https://www.va.gov/houston-health-care/. Accessed: 04/13/2022.
- Cardiology. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from: https://www.va.gov/houston-health-care/programs/cardiology/. Accessed: 11/10/2022.
- Houston VA lung cancer screening program saves lives. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from: https://news.va.gov/119400/houston-va-lung-cancer-screening-program-saves-lives/. Accessed: 05/19/2023.