A recently released study shines light on the devastating effect of mesothelioma on veterans who served from World War II through the Vietnam era, New York asbestos exposure attorney Joseph W. Belluck said.
The study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology analyzed 928 veterans. Researchers found the average veteran had about seven months to live after diagnosis with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
“This confirms what we are seeing in the field,” said Belluck, a partner of the New York personal injury law firm of Belluck & Fox LLP and one of the nation’s leading advocates for mesothelioma victims.
“Many of our service members develop asbestos-related mesothelioma after years of it being in hiding,” Belluck said. “Their prognosis is grim when the disease takes hold.”
Although the study reported that malignant pleural mesothelioma “has a uniformly poor prognosis in all stages,” it did indicate that that the outlook is better for younger patients who catch their disease early and those who undergo therapy or have cancer with certain cell structures.
The median age of veterans with mesothelioma in the study was 71, while 87.6 percent were Caucasians, and 8.72 percent were African-Americans. Other races made up the remaining 3.66 percent.
Patients who had Stage I mesothelioma, the least developed type, lived an average of 9.6 months after diagnosis. Stage II patients lived an average of 10.26 months, while Stages III and IV lived an average of 6.7 months and 5.3 months, respectively.
Belluck, the New York mesothelioma lawyer, said the results underscore how crucial it is for veterans to contact a doctor if they believe they have mesothelioma.
Veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related disease should also consult a lawyer for help with pursuing a claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to get compensation for their medical treatment and other damages, he said.
“This disease has such a long latency period that many veterans are just now discovering that they have mesothelioma decades after they were exposed to asbestos while serving in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines or Coast Guard,” Belluck said.
Belluck said statistics show that about 30 percent of all mesothelioma victims served in the military. That’s because many service members were exposed to asbestos between the 1940s and 1970s, when all military branches used the toxic substance, he said.
Even the spouses and families of veterans were frequently exposed to asbestos in housing or from second-hand contact with the substance on the service member’s clothes or body.
“Veterans suffering the effects of asbestos exposure and their families deserve just compensation,” Belluck said. “It’s highly advisable to contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to make sure your case is handled properly.”