Mesothelioma Among Veterans: The Facts that You Need to Know
By Michad De Jesus
A rising number of veterans have already been diagnosed with mesothelioma, making it a disease common among military personnel. Those who worked in manufacturing and shipyard were especially susceptible to asbestos exposure. Today, veterans make up 30 percent of the American population afflicted with Mesothelioma.
With the alarming rate of mesothelioma incidents in the military, there are important facts you need to know about the disease:
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer, affecting the lining of the lungs, the chest wall, the abdomen and in rare cases, the sac surrounding the heart.
It can induce shortness of breath, fatigue and muscle weakness. Some of its more intense symptoms are pleural effusion (or fluid around the lungs), abdominal distention and hydrocele (or fluid in the scrotum).
The leading cause of Mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. However, studies have shown that genetic disposition and inhalation of other fibrous silicate materials can also bring about the disease.
Asbestos Exposure in the Military
Asbestos was mainly used in the military as a way to insulate and fireproof the military’s structures and transportations. Studies about the hazardous effects of asbestos were already made as far back as the late 1930s, but the army chose to ignore this, given that there was a greater wartime need.
Asbestos was used to protect army barracks from fires, which made the U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force soldiers susceptible to Mesothelioma. Air-cooling systems and aircraft engines were also found to be asbestos laden and have left air force veterans exposed and at serious risk of acquiring the disease.
Prognosis and Survival Rate Among Veterans
Early signs of Mesothelioma can be tricky to tell since the disease does not often present early symptoms and has a latency period of 20 to 50 years.
Many early diagnoses of Mesothelioma happen by accident; people discover they’re riddled with it through routine x-rays and blood tests for check-ups.
More often than not, however, people get their diagnosis only when the cancer has spread, making the treatment of the cancer harder to do. With the late diagnosis, the chances of survival are decreased—most especially among veterans who may have had the disease for decades.
In a one-year survival rate, the chance of a Mesothelioma-inflicted patient is 38 percent. Five-years is ten percent and ten-years is four percent.
As with all diseases, the sooner the diagnosis, the higher the chance you have of surviving the cancer.
Treatments Available for Mesothelioma
Treatments for Mesothelioma vary depending on the type of cancer you have. They include the standard cancer treatments: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and the multimodal treatment, which also serve as preventative treatments. They aim to try and kill the cancer and prevent it from coming back after the body is rid of it.
Major surgery offers the greatest chance of survival, however, not all patients are allowed to go through surgery. This is due to the fact that their bodies may not be able to cope with the intensity of the surgical procedure and post-surgical care afterwards.
There are also Mesothelioma-specific treatments, which are: the extrapleural pneumonectomy, the pleurectomy, the cytoreduction with HIPEC and other clinical trials, utilized to more effectively attack the disease.
Program for Veterans Inflicted with Mesothelioma
The U.S. Military has provided veteran-specific treatments, which they can avail of by contacting the West Los Angeles or Boston veteran administrations. These VAs can provide veterans some benefits which can reduce the cost of treatments and increase their chances of survival. They will direct you to Mesothelioma specialists who will know how to best attack your disease.
Mesothelioma is a tough cancer to fight but spreading awareness may increase someone’s chances of survival. If you think you may have this deadly disease, contact a specialist today to get yourself checked.
AWARE is one of Australia’s leading asbestos removal and disposal companies whose services include asbestos containment, abatement and disposal. It caters to clients in Victoria, Melbourne, Geelong and the rest of Australia.