Friday, January 28, 2011

Mesothelioma Screening

From the Civil War’s Ironclads to the technology-laden ships of today, US Navy vessels have been used by brave men and women to protect and serve our country.  The Navy defended the United States during the threats of World War II, among so many other conflicts, and even today, it sets out to reduce energy consumption and improve the future of our nation and the world.  Navy veterans and present-day personnel deserve recognition and thanks.  Unfortunately, these very men and women may face hazardous health consequences, stemming from the very ships they used in service.

Beginning in World War II, the US military sanctioned the usage of asbestos in building components of cruisers, submarines, carriers, and destroyers.   In fact, thousands of tons of asbestos were used to construct, maintain, and repair ships used, whether they were deployed for battle or kept in reserve.

Asbestos products, once sanded, sawed, cut, or heated, release microscopic fibers into the air.  Though these fibers are impossible to detect through smell, sight, or taste, they can be inhaled and ingested, building up in the lungs or stomach.  Navy personnel who worked at ship yards, either constructing, repairing, or scrapping naval vessels, were exposed to the effects of asbestos.

If inhaled or ingested, asbestos may lead to a deadly cancer called mesothelioma. Mesothelioma symptoms include shortness of breath and chest heaviness, and are often latent for 20-50 years after initial exposure.  This means that World War II veterans, and even some that work and live on ships today, are unaware of the existence of mesothelioma until long after the cancer has spread.

Mesothelioma life expectancy is short, generally anywhere from a year to a few months. Because symptoms are subtle and common, doctors often misdiagnose veterans.  When the correct diagnosis is given, mesothelioma treatment is often too late and ineffective.   Of the 25 million US veterans, about a million have been exposed to asbestos over an extended period of time. Through secondary exposure to asbestos, even family members of these heroes may be in danger of cancer.

To prevent mesothelioma from consuming the lives of those veterans and of current Naval servicemen who may be exposed, request a mesothelioma screening.  If you or someone you know has served in the Navy, undergo or recommend the necessary cancer precautions: talk to a doctor, ask questions, and request testing.  Early detection of mesothelioma can lead to successful treatment and a longer, healthier life.
Krista Peterson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


The warning sign on this post is not familiar to a Sailor of my time. I never saw the first asbestos warning sign in my Navy career. Having spent some years on Cleveland Class Cruisers, Gearing Class Destroyers, USS Hunley (AS 31), A 627 Class Submarine and other auxiliary vessels, we Sailors were exposed to asbestos 100% of the time. The only saving grace was the fact that a Sailor was required to paint everything that could be seen. Nearly every compartment within the hull of a Navy ship contained multitudes of asbestos, it was referred to as lagging, and it was our duty to paint every pipe, be it a steam pipe, air conditioning vent, fire main, or any ships system pipe that was other than compartment temperature. The more coats of paint we applied the better these things looked. We were saving ourselves without even being aware of that fact. The Navy was as unaware as us Bluejackets were of the dangers of what we kept hidden under all this paint. The real danger was exposed to us Sailors when we went into a ship yard and were required in many cases to remove the lagging on the vents and pipes in order to make everything look new again.

We as Sailors were not aware of the dangers of this asbestos, and I would like to think that our superiors were unaware as well. But the companies that produced and manufactured this lethal material into the forms we used on Navy ships were aware of the dangers but kept that fact hidden. The miracles of the properties of asbestos was one of those things that proved too good to be of real value to man.

My personal experience with this substance came to light about 8 years ago when I was required to get a chest xray in preparation for necessary surgery. The Radiologist discovered a small nodule in each lung, his and another doctors diagnosis was Mesothelioma with Asbestosis. I was of course somewhat alarmed by these findings. A series of MRI’s was started at that time and continued for more than two years. At the end of that period my Pulmonary Specialist told me there was no longer any sign of the disease. But he told me to get a yearly chest xray to be safe. That experience of MRI’s for that time cost the taxpayers of the United States well over $12,000 not including cost of the doctor's visits.

I do hope that the asbestos manufacturing companies are made to suffer for the price that the many veterans and other people that worked with this very dangerous material have suffered, and will continue to suffer for many years. Since these companies were aware of the hazards but tried to hid that fact makes them even more culpable.