About Mesothelioma and Navy Veterans
Mesothelioma is a life-threatening cancer associated with inhaling asbestos fibers. Millions of Navy veterans and shipyard workers were exposed to asbestos. Many veterans, particularly Navy vets, have been diagnosed with asbestos-related disease because of asbestos exposure 20 to 50 years ago.
The tragedy of mesothelioma is that it is an entirely preventable disease if proper precautions are taken to avoid exposure to asbestos. Thousands of Navy veterans and their families have suffered terribly because asbestos manufacturers failed to provide sufficient warnings of the health hazards of their products.
If you are a Navy veteran or a naval shipyard worker and recently have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have a legal right to claim financial compensation from the asbestos manufacturers that harmed your health. The compensation you receive can help pay your medical bills and provide financial security for your family.
Belluck & Fox, LLP, is a nationally recognized law firm based in New York that represents veterans and shipyard workers with mesothelioma claims. Each case has its own facts, but Belluck & Fox recently secured a $32 million verdict for a Navy veteran exposed to asbestos during his service. We can help you.
For a free case evaluation, contact the firm at 877-637-6843 or through the online contact form.
Types of Mesothelioma Affecting Navy Veterans
There are several forms of mesothelioma, any of which may occur in Navy veterans exposed to asbestos. Navy veterans most commonly are diagnosed with is malignant pleural mesothelioma. This cancer originates in the thin layer of tissue lining the chest cavity known as the pleura, and develops when the microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled become lodged in the pleura. Asbestos fibers lodge in the chest cavity causing inflammation and scarring of lung tissue that over time may cause mutations in cells that lead to cancer.
Navy veterans and shipyard workers also may develop peritoneal mesothelioma. This form of mesothelioma starts in the tissue lining the abdominal cavity. Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is much less common than pleural mesothelioma.
A very rare form of mesothelioma is pericardial mesothelioma, which begins in the tissue surrounding the heart known as the pericardium. Mesothelioma has also rarely been known to appear in the tunica vaginalis, the lining of the testicles. Wherever the disease originates, mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer.
Symptoms of the disease, such as shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain often do not appear for 20 to 50 years after exposure. Many veterans and shipyard workers are in their 60s or 70s when they are diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose. Not only do its symptoms often mimic a stubborn chest cold or the flu, but patients who display these symptoms rarely associate them with asbestos exposure that occurred 10 to 50 years or more in the past.
Patients with known exposure to asbestos can undergo imaging tests—such as x-rays or CT scans—to look for internal tissue changes that signal mesothelioma or lung cancer. These tests, however, are typically used to locate cancer (or what appears to be cancer) and aren’t a reliable means of diagnosis.
Blood testing is an emerging field of mesothelioma diagnosis. Mesothelioma patients often have elevated blood levels of two substances: osteopontin and mesothelin-related peptides. But the presence of these substances merely suggest, and do not confirm, a diagnosis of mesothelioma.
The more accurate tests for mesothelioma are fluid and tissue sample tests. A doctor can remove fluid or tissue from the body using a needle, a special instrument, or surgery and then have it analyzed in a laboratory to see if it is in fact mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a fast-spreading cancer with a generally poor prognosis. Individual patient factors, though, including the type of mesothelioma, cancer stage, and a patient’s age and health, play a significant role in prognosis. While many patients die within a year of being diagnosed with mesothelioma, others have successfully undergone treatment and remained disease-free for 6 to 12 years or more.
According to the American Cancer Society, the median survival times of pleural mesothelioma patients, based on cancer stage (how far the cancer has spread), are as follows:
- Stage I: 21 months
- Stage II: 19 months
- Stage III: 16 months
- Stage IV: 12 months
Mesothelioma treatments can be grouped into two main categories: standard and novel.
The standard treatments for mesothelioma are chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. In most cases, more than one of these treatments are used. For example, a patient may have surgery followed by radiation or chemotherapy, or vice versa.
Mesothelioma surgery can be performed to try and cure the cancer or to simply relieve symptoms and improve a patient’s quality of life. Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP)—a radical surgery that removes a patient’s cancerous lung along with the chest wall lining, diaphragm, pericardium and lymph nodes—has resulted in some patient’s remaining cancer-free, but not all patients are healthy enough for the operation. Less extensive surgeries that remove just the cancer cells and spare the lung and diaphragm can also be performed.
Targeted therapies and cancer immunotherapy are emerging mesothelioma treatments that attack cancer cells specifically (unlike radiation and chemotherapy, which act against both healthy and malignant cells). A number of targeted therapies have been approved by the FDA for mesothelioma and other cancers. Immunotherapy, which uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer, is still considered an experimental treatment, but you may be able to receive it by participating in a clinical trial.
Contact a Mesothelioma Veterans Lawyer
If you are a Navy veteran or a naval shipyard worker whose been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, it’s important to understand your medical as well as your legal options. You may have the right to claim financial compensation from the asbestos companies that made the products responsible for your asbestos exposure.
The mesothelioma attorneys at Belluck & Fox have a strong track record of taking on the asbestos industry and obtaining financial rewards for our clients. Using ship blueprints, shipmate testimony and other means, we find out what products caused veterans to be exposed to asbestos and which companies supplied the Navy with those asbestos products.
For a free case evaluation, contact the firm at 855-782-4640 or send us a message using our online contact form.