Military veterans comprise the largest occupational group to be impacted by asbestos toxicity and its related medical conditions-including a fatal form of cancer known as mesothelioma.
The following six-part series is dedicated to them.
A highly hazardous carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent-asbestos was used in countless construction projects of every U.S. Military branch, with a particularly high incidence of usage within the U.S. Navy.
Decades after asbestos-containing materials were banned by the military across the board, thousands of vets have been diagnosed with a range of exposure-linked illnesses, incurring millions of dollars in medical costs and an immeasurable amount of pain and grief for both the service men and women affected and the military families forced to endure the tragedy along with them.
In PART SIX, we’ll cover one of the most important and potentially life-saving topics for asbestos-era military veterans-the symptoms and warning signs of mesothelioma. You’ll learn what to look for in the early stages of the most common types, as well as the most significant thing you’ll need to do when seeking medical attention.
Because mesothelioma symptoms are notoriously difficult to distinguish from those of common and non-fatal conditions-ranging from seasonal allergies to acid reflux-it is absolutely imperative that any U.S. Military veterans who were enlisted during the period between the early 1930s and early 1970s be aware of the early warning signs for common forms of the disease. This is especially pertinent for those who worked on navy ships with asbestos.
Early Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma, which forms in the lining of the lungs and chest wall, most often produces symptoms that are concentrated in the same region as the cancer. As such, disruptions in lung function can result in a variety of breathing difficulties. These may include one or more of the following:
- -Shortness of breath or struggling to take deep breaths
- -Pain in the chest region
- -Persistent coughing or wheezing
- -Hoarseness of the voice that lasts more than a week or two
- -A feeling of tightness or dull pressure in the chest
Additional pleural mesothelioma symptoms that are less frequently reported but can be a telltale sign that something is wrong include:
- -Sudden and/or unexplained weight loss
- -Otherwise unattributed anemia
- -Chronic fatigue
Early Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma forms in the lining of the stomach and abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum. Early symptoms tend to concentrated in the gastrointestinal system and/or abdominal region and most often include one or more of the following:
- -Abdominal pain and/or swelling
- -Weight loss
- -Bowel disturbances, sometimes caused by an obstruction
- -Nausea and/or vomiting
Other mesothelioma symptoms that may present in the peritoneal variety include:
- -Otherwise unattributed anemia
- -Blood-clotting anomalies
The #1 Rule of Medical Care After Asbestos Exposure
Because the timing of a mesothelioma diagnosis is the key factor in determining treatment efficacy and prognosis, veterans are encouraged not to wait and seek medical care immediately if any mesothelioma symptoms are noticed.
Most importantly: inform your doctor about your history of exposure. Without this information, physicians are much less likely to consider mesothelioma in their diagnostic evaluation-which can lead to misdiagnosis and delayed treatment!