What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma, sometimes referred to as malignant mesothelioma, is a type of cancer that affects the mesothelium. The mesothelium is the thin, protective lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. This rare cancer is caused by asbestos, a durable, fire-resistant mineral that was used throughout the 20th century in numerous military, industrial, commercial, and residential products. Unfortunately, the naturally occurring mineral is also a carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer) that can lead to various types of cancer and other illnesses when inhaled or ingested. Mesothelioma is the most serious of these asbestos-related diseases.
Mesothelioma cancer has a long latency period (the time between the patient’s exposure to asbestos and the development of the cancer). Because of this, mesothelioma is most often diagnosed in older people, and at more advanced stages. Most mesothelioma patients are men who served in the military or who worked in the automotive or construction industries. Firefighters, police officers, paramedics, EMTs, and other first responders also have a higher-than-average risk of getting mesothelioma.
Although the prognosis for mesothelioma has historically been poor, new and improved treatment options are giving patients better quality of life and a longer life expectancy.
Veterans who were exposed to mesothelioma may be eligible for VA compensation. To find out if you qualify, speak with a patient advocate today.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
Exposure to the carcinogen asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. When asbestos is disturbed, its microscopic fibers can become airborne. People inhale or ingest the fibers, which then lodge in the mesothelium surrounding the lungs, heart, or stomach. These asbestos fibers cause irritation and scarring, eventually leading to the growth of malignant mesothelioma tumors.
What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
The symptoms of mesothelioma include a persistent cough, trouble breathing, chest or abdominal pain, weight loss, and other respiratory or digestive issues. It’s easy to mistake these symptoms for those of other, less severe conditions, such as pneumonia or the flu. If you know you may have been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing any of the symptoms above, you should visit your primary care physician right away. Early detection can make a difference in both your life expectancy and quality of life.
How Is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
Your physician will perform various diagnostic tests if they suspect you may have mesothelioma. These may include imaging tests, blood tests, and fluid and tissue biopsies. The only way to definitively diagnose the cancer mesothelioma is with a tissue biopsy.
What Are the Three Types of Mesothelioma?
There are three main types of mesothelioma. These are pleural mesothelioma (affecting the lining of the lungs), peritoneal mesothelioma (affecting the lining of the abdomen), and pericardial mesothelioma (affecting the lining of the heart).
What Are the Stages of Mesothelioma?
Like most other forms of cancer, mesothelioma is staged from 1 to 4. The higher the stage, the further the cancer has spread throughout the body. The stage often affects the prognosis and determines which treatment options are available.
Veterans with mesothelioma can take action without affecting their benefits.
How Is Mesothelioma Treated?
The standard treatment plan for mesothelioma includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Immunotherapy is a newer treatment that is becoming increasingly common for the treatment of this rare cancer. Some patients may also be eligible for clinical trials to test emerging mesothelioma treatments.
Why Do Veterans Have a Higher Risk of Developing Mesothelioma?
The U.S. military used asbestos extensively during the mid-1900s. Because it is durable and fireproof, the material was used on ships and submarines, aircraft, vehicles, and even in sleeping barracks and mess halls. Because of this, many service men and women (as well as civilian staffers) were exposed to deadly asbestos dust and fibers.
Are Veterans Benefits Available for Mesothelioma Patients?
If you were exposed to asbestos while enlisted in the United States Armed Forces and developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-caused illness as a result, you may be eligible for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Learn more about veterans, asbestos, and mesothelioma, including how to apply for VA benefits.
Are Veterans With Mesothelioma Entitled to Legal Compensation?
Asbestos companies placed the health of America’s service members and workers in jeopardy, despite knowing about the dangers of the material. Because of this, anyone who develops mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure may be entitled to compensation — including veterans. Connect with an experienced mesothelioma attorney to learn more about filing a lawsuit or trust fund claim against the asbestos company or companies responsible for your asbestos exposure and resulting illness.