Five Questions about Mesothelioma in Navy Veterans

The tragic and painful connection between mesothelioma and navy veterans has been well established, causing many vets to question whether they might be at risk and how the situation came to be. The following article lists and answers five common questions about mesothelioma cancer and how it can affect the brave women and men of the United States Navy Service.

How common is mesothelioma in navy veterans?

Approximately one-third of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases in the U.S. have been in navy veterans. This means that as many as one thousand vets are diagnosed each year. Although veterans of each of the U.S. military’s major branches are considered to be at heightened risk for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions, none have seen the same degree of diagnostic prevalence as veterans of the navy.

Why is there such a strong link between mesothelioma and navy veterans?

The cornerstone of the navy-mesothelioma connection is a once-popular manufacturing material called asbestos. Asbestos exposure is the number one cause of mesothelioma, as well as several other serious medical conditions. Until the late 20th century, asbestos building materials were commonly applied to residential and commercial construction, but none more extensively than within the military. The navy, in particular, made great use of asbestos materials, which were coveted for their unique ability to resist fire and other significant physical assaults.

However, asbestos is also a highly toxic carcinogen—or cancer-causing agent—that has been discovered to cause long-term internal damage that can ultimately lead to the development of cancer.

How do I know if I am at risk for developing mesothelioma?

Toxicity experts identify any employee of the U.S. military from World War II and beyond as being at a heightened risk for past exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma in navy veterans is more likely after having worked on ships built prior to the mid-1970s. Those who worked on older ships may have been at risk of exposure to aged and brittle asbestos, which is most likely to disintegrate and become toxic.

How would I know if I had mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma symptoms can vary, depending on where the cancer is located in the body. The most common form of the disease affects the pleura, or lining of the lung cavity. Symptoms for this type can include everything from shortness of breath to coughing up blood. For a full list of symptoms, you can consult the American Lung Association or look here.

What kind of help is available to vets with mesothelioma?

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs offers a range of assistance options for disabled vets, including those affected by occupational exposure to asbestos. A diagnosis of mesothelioma in navy veterans should qualify them for medical care at VA treatment facilities, as well as courtesy transportation to those locations.

Additionally, anyone who has been a victim of an asbestos-related illness is eligible to receive monetary damages from the asbestos manufacturer that was responsible for causing the past exposure.