The Connection Between Mesothelioma and Military Families

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer that most often develops after exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma treatments are available for those who have been diagnosed with the disease. As of yet a cure for the cancer is not possible. Asbestos exposure is the primary risk factor for developing mesothelioma. Almost all known cases have some type of asbestos exposure associated with it. Asbestos is found naturally in the environment. The fibers that make up this mineral are strong and resistant to heat. They were used for decades in applications, such as in insulation, brakes, drywall, roofing materials, shingles, flooring, plumbing, tiles, and many other products. The danger of asbestos is when it gets into the body, especially into the lungs.

“When asbestos is broken up, such as during the mining process or when removing asbestos insulation, dust may be created. If the dust is inhaled or swallowed, the asbestos fibers will settle in the lungs or in the stomach, where they can cause irritation that may lead to mesothelioma. Exactly how this happens isn’t understood. It can take 20 to 40 years or more for mesothelioma to develop after asbestos exposure. Most people with years of asbestos exposure never develop mesothelioma. And yet, others with very brief exposure develop the disease. This indicates that other factors may be involved in determining whether someone gets mesothelioma or doesn’t. For instance, you could inherit a predisposition to cancer or some other condition could increase your risk” (Mayo Clinic).

Because of the time period in which asbestos was used and the types of products and materials it was used in, those who served in the military are often the individuals who have the highest rate of mesothelioma later on in life.


Military Exposure to Asbestos

While the Navy is the largest branch of the military to see mesothelioma cases, other branches of servicemen and women are also at risk for developing the cancer. Asbestos was used in many things used on a regular basis by the military. Tanks, submarines, aircraft, sleeping quarters, mess halls, underground bunkers, shipyards, and many more applications put military personnel in direct and almost constant exposure to asbestos. This is why it is important for anyone who might have been exposed to asbestos while in the military know the symptoms and discuss testing and treatment options with their health care provider.

Asbestos was still in use in the mid 1980’s when it came to light that the substance was causing mesothelioma as well as other serious health problems. It was soon discovered that mesothelioma could lie in a dormant stage for 20-40 years before manifesting as an aggressive fast spreading cancer. In the dormant stage early symptoms often mimicked reparatory infections, chest colds, and bronchitis which made it difficult to catch early. The disease is caused by exposure to asbestos and often affected military personnel and workers who installed the asbestos insulation, those living and working in the areas where it was used, and others who came into contact with the asbestos fibers through second-hand means.

Since the link between asbestos and mesothelioma that officially declared, asbestos use has been significantly curtailed in insulation applications. Despite this, asbestos exposure still occurs because many older buildings, machines, and product that were made with asbestos are still in use even today. With a long dormant time possible, new cases of mesotheliomas are being diagnosed all the time in those who were exposed to it through their military service decades ago.


Family Member Second Hand Exposure to Asbestos

It may also be necessary for the family members of military personnel to be tested for mesothelioma. They too need to be watchful and report any symptoms or concerns to their healthcare provider since second-hand spread of asbestos is very common, especially in these types of situations! Military workers, soldiers, and personnel would be exposed to asbestos fibers all day long. Those fibers would stick to their hair, clothes, supplies, and anything else they were used day in and day out. They would come home and bring the asbestos home with them. Wives would wash clothes covered in asbestos and be exposed to it second-hand in that manner. Children who would greet their parents with hugs could have ben exposed to asbestos fibers as well. It is also quite likely that asbestos also got into the home and prolonged exposure. Fibers got tracked through the home on boots and clothes and supplies or tools brought into the home each day.

Second-hand exposure to asbestos was very common and still results in mesothelioma diagnosis in many instances.

Several factors will affect the likelihood of second-hand exposure to asbestos resulting in an increased risk for mesothelioma:

  • Dose – the amount of asbestos they were exposed to and the form it was in
  • Duration –length of time that the individual was exposed
  • Asbestos Type- the size, shape, and makeup of the asbestos fibers involved
  • Source- the source of asbestos could be a factor
  • Individuals- factors like smoking, chronic health issues, pre-existing conditions
  • Genetic factors- genetics may also affect severity of asbestos exposure in some


Legal Rights After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

For many individuals with mesothelioma, their only course of action is to seek legal restitution for their illness, suffering, and loss of quality in life. Many civil suites and lawsuits have been fought and won in favor of those with the disease. However, in some instances, second-hand exposure cases are not so easily won. Family members who got asbestos because a loved one was exposed often find it harder to win cases. Progress is being made to help all who are suffering due to exposure to asbestos materials.  To see if you have a case and to see what legal course is open for you, contact us today. We are here to help you in your time of need so call us and we will work with you on your mesothelioma and asbestos exposure case.