During the last century, members of the U.S. military were exposed to asbestos while serving, particularly individuals in the U.S. Navy. With over 300 different asbestos products on the ships built before 1980, asbestos exposure was impossible to avoid for everyone onboard.
When the hazardous products were disturbed, they became friable, releasing millions of toxic fibers. That is why many veterans are only now diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. Navy members may have been in contact with asbestos during the building, maintenance, repair, or demolition of ships and through day-to-day service onboard. Longtime asbestos exposure often leads to the development of asbestos-related cancers such as:
- urogenital cancer
- pharyngeal cancer
- bronchial cancer
- lung cancer
- gastrointestinal cancer
- esophageal cancer
- laryngeal cancer
- colorectal cancer
Former Navy personnel diagnosed with the abovementioned cancer are eligible for claims and may receive compensation if their medical records show one of these malignant diseases.
The Link Between Asbestos Exposure and Prostate Cancer
Asbestos fibers are tiny enough to be inhaled without difficulty, and thanks to their barb-like ends, they get caught easily in the lining of the lungs. Because our bodies lack the mechanism to eliminate the lodged microscopic asbestos particles, they remain in the body for decades, causing irritation, inflammation, scarring, and tumor occurrence.
Results from 33 studies concluded that asbestos exposure increases the possibility of developing prostate cancer, and the primary mechanism of asbestos absorption is respiratory. Given that asbestos fibers can migrate from the lungs to other body parts, they can also be present in other organs, including prostate glands.
The American College of Chest Physicians' study from 1980 looked at various organs for traces of asbestos and found that about half of the examined organs contained the toxic mineral; of the fourteen assessed prostate samples, six had the fibers.
In 2003, a large-scale analysis of cancer rates revealed that employees were significantly more likely to develop life-threatening diseases than the general population. Although it didn't investigate prostate cancer particularly, the study did suggest that people exposed to asbestos long-term suffered from severe conditions. It linked environmental and occupational asbestos exposure to an increased prostate cancer risk. Even if the specific causes of this cancer type are not entirely clear, doctors believe the following factors contribute to its development:
- family history
- exposure to toxins
- sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Prostate cancer was also associated with exposure to elevated levels of PFAS, a group of highly toxic chemicals that can be found in more than 700 U.S. military bases. Consequently, people stationed on a U.S. military base were inevitably exposed and are at an increased risk of developing this malignant disease. Service members or their families qualify for compensation if diagnosed with this type of cancer.
Veterans Exposed to Asbestos Run a Greater Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is one of the most frequent malignant diseases affecting men, second to skin cancer. According to the CDC, 13 out of every 100 men will eventually develop prostate cancer, and exposure to toxins largely contributes to this malignant illness, putting veterans exposed to asbestos at a greater risk.
The process of cells growing abnormally in the prostate gland is usually slow; there may be no signs of prostate cancer for many years. Paying close attention to changes is advisable because early-stage prostate cancer rarely causes symptoms. The following issues may occur as the disease has progressed to advanced stages:
- frequent need to pee, especially at night
- weak and interrupted urine flow
- pain or burning while peeing
- loss of bladder control
- loss of bowel control
- erectile dysfunction and painful ejaculation
- blood in urine or semen
- recurring pain in the lower back, hip, or pelvis
- swelling of the legs or feet
- unexplained weight loss
It's essential to note that not all prostate problems are signs of prostate cancer; other illnesses that can create symptoms similar to prostate cancer include:
- benign prostatic hyperplasia
Prostate cancer is curable with early diagnosis and treatment, so regular screenings are crucial - they can help detect prostate cancer early. If the screenings show signs of the disease, additional diagnostic procedures are needed:
- digital rectal exam
- PSA blood test
- PSMA PET scan
- transrectal ultrasound
Given that developing prostate cancer and asbestos exposure are linked through a process in the lungs, veterans should keep an eye on the symptoms of asbestos illnesses, even if those seem to have no relation to the prostate:
- shortness of breath
- fluid in the lungs
- chest pain
- dry cough
- a crackling sound when breathing
Speaking about your military service can significantly help the evaluation and reduce the chance of misdiagnosis. It also helps establish the best course of treatment in time and avoid a tragic outcome.
Asbestos Diseases Are Often Mistaken for Regular Illnesses
Illnesses stemming from asbestos exposure are complex, and most doctors often misread the symptoms and establish misleading outcomes. The inhaled asbestos fibers cause damage only after many years, and the disease often reaches advanced stages by the time symptoms emerge.
Moreover, asbestos-related diseases can have signs that look like those of other common respiratory conditions, making their correct assessment troublesome. Veterans should ask for a second or even third doctor's opinion outside the VA to prevent wasting time receiving a faulty diagnosis and an unnecessary treatment.
Being vocal about the chances of asbestos exposure during service will help narrow the diagnostic possibilities, and it could uncover non-cancerous asbestos diseases like:
- pleural thickening
- pulmonary fibrosis
- lung nodules and spots
- chronic bronchitis
- rounded atelectasis
- pleural plaques
- pleural effusion
Although benign conditions won't qualify a veteran for compensation, they should be monitored regularly, as they can evolve into cancer. Regular chest X-rays and pulmonary function tests may discover them becoming malignant, and a cancer diagnosis will make the veteran eligible to file claims.
A Malignant Illness Caused by Asbestos Exposure May Qualify You to Receive Compensation
Because the Navy required asbestos in shipbuilding between the 1930s and mid-1970s, asbestos exposure became a significant health concern for everyone who served on those vessels. Navy veterans diagnosed with cancer due to asbestos exposure during service may file for compensation if they don't exceed the statute of limitations up to five years from their diagnosis.
If you decide to take legal steps and file claims with the asbestos trust funds and the VA to receive the deserved indemnification, we can help by putting you in contact with top attorneys specializing in asbestos claims.