You may have heard the word “mesothelioma” in regards to veterans recently, but weren’t sure what it was. You’re not alone. Many people don’t know the word until they end up suffering from this form of cancer. Mesothelioma is cancer that affects the tissue around the lungs and the chest. It can also affect the abdomen and the wall around the heart. The vast majority of cases of mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos. While there has been a concerted effort to remove asbestos from homes, schools, and businesses over the last few decades, the fact is that mesothelioma can still affect people, even if they were exposed many years ago. In the United States, more than 3,000 people were affected by it last year.
There are several symptoms of mesothelioma, and they can appear up to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Chest pains, coughing blood, and anemia are all signs of fluid collecting in the chest because tissue has been damaged. If the tumor is in the abdominal cavity, there may be no symptoms at all until it’s at a very late stage. These symptoms include problems with bowels, a mass in the abdomen, and unusual weight loss. In the final stages, sufferers have been seen to have various types of blood clots, jaundice, and severe ascites. Once it’s been identified, the prognosis is unfortunately not good. Over 90% of patients die, even with the intervention of treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery.
This means that this dangerous cancer is taking the lives of many of our greatest generation. Around the middle of the last century, asbestos was present in many factories, office buildings, and even in the construction of homes. Those who may have been affected the most, however, have been our brave service men and women who were on naval bases. Shipyards and the ships themselves had high concentrations of asbestos dust, which means that many veterans are fighting a new battle at home against an even tougher foe. The naval base in San Diego, for instance, was incredibly busy during the cold war, with over 100 ships in dock at any time, but many that passed through for servicing. Those who repaired ships, or worked around them would have been, and remain to be, at great risk from exposure. Sometimes, as little as a month of exposure to the dust is enough to trigger the deadly disease. Other places of increased risk were mills and mines, and those who produced actual asbestos products.
Since mesothelioma can take so long to present itself, it can be tough to catch. We have many veterans and retirees in Orange County who may have been exposed in the past but have no idea that this cancer could be hiding and ready to show itself. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve incurred. Contact an attorney that specializes in mesothelioma cases who will fight for what you deserve.