Asbestos & Mesothelioma

The US Department of Veteran Affairs states there are over 25 million current US citizens who have served in the armed forces and many of them were exposed to asbestos and may develop mesothelioma at some point. In fact over 30% of all patients developing mesothelioma cancer are current or retired military veterans. There were over 300 military applications for the use of asbestos and it was the preferred product for insulation of pipes, boilers, electrical units, brakes, gaskets, valve cements, adhesives, flooring, etc. Shipyards were full of asbestos as were battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines and other boats.

Mesothelioma Cancer
The most common symptoms of mesothelioma are breathing difficulty or pain in the chest area. Some patients may not display any mesothelioma symptoms at the point at which they are diagnosed. A few other symptoms include loss of weight, high fever, night sweats, coughing, and a feeling of unwellness. The mesothelioma symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma can include swelling, pain due to fluid in the abdomen cavity, sudden weight loss, and a mass in the abdomen. Additional mesothelioma symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, lowered red blood cell count, and high fever.

Mesothelioma is a very rare form of lung cancer that starts in the mesothelium. The area of the mesothelium is made up of parietal and visceral membranes which are thin layers of tissue that surround organs and body cavities such as the lungs or abdomen. The visceral membrane immediately surrounds the organ and the parietal membrane is a sac covering the visceral membrane.

Mesothelioma Symptoms
Often Mesothelioma symptoms do not occur until 21-49 years after asbestos exposure which caused it. The average age where symptoms begin to appear is around 60 years old. It is estimated that about 3,000 to 4,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the US. The number of cases reported each year is increasing. Among men 55 years and older, a possible reason for the current increase in diagnosed cases is due to asbestos use in their work environment. Since the 1930’s, asbestos has been used primarily in factories, shipyards, and other industrial settings.