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Military Branch Conditions

Occupations Exposed

Products Affected

Naval Exposure Sites


Given the widespread use of asbestos products in the military, millions of veterans were exposed to potentially life threatening levels of asbestos from World War I through the early 1980s. Since asbestos-related cancers and diseases, specifically mesothelioma, cannot be detected until years after the initial exposure, many veterans are just now recognizing their symptoms as asbestos-related.
Depending on the level and length of an individual's exposure, symptoms will likely vary from person to person. As previous cases have shown, veterans working aboard ships and in shipyards typically have more profound symptoms than a base secretary or pilot. Regardless of exposure levels, it is important to be aware of your symptoms as they may turn out to be more serious than initially anticipated.
For many veterans, common symptoms result from their many years on ships and around machinery and equipment that spread asbestos fibers in the air. The two most common types of mesothelioma encountered in veterans are pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, often causes pain in the side of the chest or lower back. Symptoms related to pleural mesothelioma can include:
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Loss
  • Progressive Loss of Appetite
  • Pleural Effusions: Fluid in the Chest Cavity
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Weakness
  • Coughing Blood
  • Sensory Loss
Veterans suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma suffer from many of the same symptoms as pleural mesothelioma victims, often with some differing factors. Peritoneal mesothelioma can cause pain in the abdomen. Symptoms often include severe abdominal pain and swelling as a result of the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include:
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Belly pain
  • Hernia
  • Swelling: Abdomen, Neck, Face
  • General Pain
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Blood Clotting
  • Anemia
  • Bowel Obstruction
  • Fever
With symptoms often bearing a resemblance to the effects of the flu, pneumonia or bronchitis, it is common for individuals to go two to six months before seeking medical attention. This significant delay in addressing the cause of the symptoms is extremely detrimental to a proper diagnosis and treatment efforts.
If you are a veteran and are experiencing any of these symptoms or have a loved one who was in the military and is suffering, please contact a physician as soon as possible. For a proper diagnosis, it is essential to tell your doctor all of your symptoms and full military exposure facts as they may well be pertinent to your diagnosis.

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