What Veterans Need to Know About Mesothelioma Screening

3 Min Read

Veteran receiving mesothelioma screening

U.S. veterans are at a high risk of developing various cancers because of the toxins they were exposed to during their service. One of these toxins was asbestos, a mineral widely used in every branch of the military prior to the early 1980s.

Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. One-third of all mesothelioma cases affect veterans.

As a result, it’s incredibly important for veterans to become familiar with mesothelioma symptoms, discuss asbestos exposure and service history with their doctors, and undergo mesothelioma screening so doctors can catch the disease early on.

Learn more about mesothelioma symptoms, treatments, and resources available for veterans in our Free Veterans Packet.

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Why Mesothelioma Screening Is Important

Mesothelioma screening is important for veterans as it improves their chances of getting diagnosed earlier.

There is no cure for mesothelioma, and it is often caught in more advanced stages, where there are fewer treatment options available. For this reason, veterans with mesothelioma are often given a poor prognosis (expected health outcome) after their diagnosis.

A screening or early diagnosis can help catch mesothelioma before it spreads to other parts of the body, possibly leading to a more positive prognosis and a higher quality of life. Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma in its earlier stages may live full, stable lives for many years.

Who Should Get Screened for Mesothelioma?

All veterans should undergo mesothelioma screening regardless of when they served.

Most notably, veterans should get screened if they are experiencing any of the following mesothelioma symptoms:

  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Shoulder pain
  • Swelling in the stomach or testicles
  • Weight loss

Veterans should tell their doctors about any changes to their health, regardless of how insignificant they may seem.

Who’s At the Highest Risk?

While all veterans should consider routine cancer screenings, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recommends them for those who are at higher risk of mesothelioma after working in specific military roles that handled asbestos between the 1930s and early 1980s.

Additionally, veterans who continued working in high-risk occupations after their service should also get screened.

These occupations include:

  • Auto or aircraft repair
  • Carpentry
  • Construction
  • Demolition
  • Milling
  • Mining
  • Shipyard work

These jobs often required veterans to work with asbestos-containing materials nearly every day, potentially exposing them to high amounts of asbestos fibers. However, even veterans who performed other jobs should undergo routine screening for mesothelioma and other cancers or health risks.

Have you been diagnosed with mesothelioma but can’t remember where you were exposed to asbestos? Our team can help pinpoint where you may have encountered asbestos. Call (877) 450-8973 now to get started.

How to Get Screened for Mesothelioma

If you are a veteran concerned about the risk of mesothelioma or other cancers, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

You’ll want to tell your doctor about your military service and possible exposure to asbestos and other toxins. Your doctor may order a few tests to screen for mesothelioma and other cancers.

Mesothelioma screening tests include:

  • CT scans
  • MRIs
  • X-rays

These imaging scans will help doctors detect any abnormalities in your lungs, abdomen, or the rest of your body.

Did you know?

Mesothelioma is sometimes mistaken for other less serious conditions like pneumonia or the flu. If you are experiencing symptoms and are unhappy with the results of any imaging scans, you may need to advocate for your health and request a second opinion or more in-depth testing.

You may need to see a mesothelioma specialist who has the most training and understanding of this rare cancer, so you can rest easy knowing that you have the best information on your health.

Thanks to recent initiatives, the VA health care system has also expanded low-cost or free cancer screening options across the nation, allowing veterans to get screened much easier than ever before.

Compensation Options After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis after a screening can feel overwhelming emotionally and financially, with treatments often exceeding $500,000. Thankfully, there is help available.

Veterans with mesothelioma may be able to get compensation by:

Compensation from each of these options can help ease the burden of medical bills and provide a higher quality of life for the veteran and their family members.

If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, the Mesothelioma Veterans Center can help you file for compensation. Learn about your options right now in our Free Veterans Packet.

Veterans Support Team
Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

  1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Asbestos.” Retrieved February 21, 2024, from https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/asbestos/index.asp
  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “LCS Program Improves Cancer Screening Among Veterans.” Retrieved February 21, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/birmingham-health-care/stories/lcs-program-improves-cancer-screening-among-veterans/
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “VA Cancer Screenings.” Retrieved February 21, 2024, from https://www.cancer.va.gov/CANCER/assets/pdf/NOPCancerScreeningsFlyerv3508.pdf
  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Veterans Asbestos Exposure,” Retrieved February 21, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/