Prolonged Asbestos Exposure, a Potential Kidney Cancer Risk Factor

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From the 30s until the late 70s, thousands of veterans were exposed to asbestos aboard Navy ships and in land bases. Facing the demands of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, the Navy mandated asbestos in building vessels due to the mineral mixing well with other compounds, improving their durability for affordable prices.

Asbestos was applied to insulate almost everything onboard, from electrical wirings to steam pipes, engines, and boilers, making the most out of the material's resistance to high temperatures. It is why many Navy veterans suffer from asbestos exposure's effects on their health decades after their service.

With wear and tear, the microscopic asbestos fibers may become airborne, putting everyone on the ship at a high risk of inhaling or ingesting them. Once in the body, the fibers get lodged in the lining of organs, causing irritation, inflammation, and permanent scarring. The ongoing irritation leads to cell mutation over time, and tumors may form, leading to severe diseases like:

Diagnosed with these illnesses, veterans qualify for compensation and expedited claims if the medical documents show an assessment of such a life-altering condition.

Asbestos and Kidney Cancer, a Causal Association

Asbestos is a known human carcinogen, and its connection with the causes of kidney cancer is through the evidence of a causal association. Proof to date indicates three human studies with data showing excess mortality from kidney cancer among workers exposed to asbestos.

These occupational cohort studies gave strong direct evidence found among U.S. insulators and asbestos products company workers and Italian shipyard workers. According to the findings, they developed kidney cancer, urinary bladder cancer, and cancer of other urinary organs due to asbestos exposure. Further studies found asbestos fibers in human kidneys and urine, concluding that asbestos is among the dangerous substances causing human kidney cancer. Ever-exposure to asbestos was found to increase the odds of kidney cancer by 20% compared to unexposed workers.

Similarly, veterans fulfilling duty on the Navy ships built before the 80s faced the same hazards as the workers mentioned in the studies: they were at risk of developing kidney cancer due to prolonged asbestos exposure during their years in the military.

Kidney cancer can also originate from exposure to PFAS. These chemicals are currently present on more than 700 military bases throughout the country, and everyone stationed there is inevitably exposed to them, increasing their risk of developing kidney cancer. People fulfilling their duty or their family living with them at a military site may be eligible for compensation if diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Longtime Asbestos Exposure Has a Strong Relationship With Kidney Cancer Risk

In the past, a handful of cancers were inconclusively linked to asbestos exposure. Thanks to recent research, asbestos is considered a potential cause of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most common type of kidney cancer, accounting for about 90% of all cases.

RCC usually affects only one kidney, but the cancer may develop in both kidneys in rare cases. The disease originates inside the kidney's tubes, which filter blood and remove waste products. Unfortunately, it has no early warning signs in its early stages; it's usually diagnosed when testing for something else. Over time it manifests through symptoms like:

  • blood in the urine
  • flank pain
  • a mass in the flank or abdomen
  • loss of appetite
  • unexplained weight loss
  • high blood pressure
  • night sweats
  • fatigue
  • tiredness, lack of energy
  • exceptionally high calcium levels in the blood
  • varicose veins around the testicles, usually on the left side
  • lasting fever

Risk factors other than asbestos exposure include:

  • smoking
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • cystic kidney disease
  • long-term dialysis to treat chronic kidney failure
  • family history of kidney cancer
  • inherited syndromes (Hippel-Lindau disease, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome)

It is advisable to seek medical attention as soon as possible, given that the symptoms are similar to those of kidney infection and, therefore, easily misleading. Going to the doctor without delay can be life-saving, as RCC is a very aggressive disease, and the prognosis is poor for advanced stages. The diagnostic process usually involves imagistic investigations and biological sample tests done by a specialist:

  • ultrasound scan
  • CT scan
  • cystoscopy
  • biopsy

Speaking about your service in the military can significantly speed up the evaluation and narrow the possible diagnostic outcomes. It also reduces the chance of misdiagnosis and helps establish the best therapy in time, adding years to life.

Asbestos-Related Diseases Can Be Mistaken for Regular Illnesses

The complexity of health conditions stemming from asbestos exposure is often the culprit for most doctors misreading the symptoms and establishing misleading outcomes. The inhaled asbestos fibers cause damage only in the long run, and by the time they manifest symptoms, the caused health condition usually reaches advanced stages. On top of that, signs of asbestos-related diseases can look like those of other common, less dangerous respiratory conditions, further complicating their correct assessment.

To prevent wasting time on being misdiagnosed and receiving an unessential treatment, veterans should ask for a second or even third doctor's opinion outside the VA. Telling your doctor about your military time will help narrow the diagnostic possibilities. Bringing up the chances of asbestos exposure during service could disclose non-cancerous asbestos diseases like:

Even though benign diseases don't qualify a veteran for compensation, they should be kept under regular observation, as they tend to become cancerous. If done periodically, chest X-rays and pulmonary function tests may detect them in the early stages of becoming malignant, and an exact cancer diagnosis will entitle the veteran to file claims.

Helping Veterans Diagnosed With Asbestos-Related Cancer to Apply for Financial Compensation

Veterans of the Navy, U.S. Army Transport Service, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Merchant Marine diagnosed with asbestos-related malignant diseases may seek compensation to pay for their medical treatments, lost income, and other expenditures. Legal claims have a statute of limitations, so updating your information about it spares you the disappointment of filing for claims after the regulated time has expired.

To spare the situations where you cannot pursue compensation, contact an attorney as soon as possible following your diagnosis. This way, you can be sure your claims get filed on time. We can help by putting you in touch with experienced attorneys ready to help you get the deserved financial aid for your trouble and suffering.

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