Mesothelioma and Asbestos in the Coast Guard
The Coast Guard has not reported many cases of mesothelioma, but it is only 10 percent of the Navy’s size.
Today, some U.S. Coast Guard veterans are developing mesothelioma due to their asbestos exposure during service. Mesothelioma specialists provide personalized treatment plans for U.S. Coast Guard veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma. These treatments allow veterans to live longer, healthier lives despite their diagnosis.
Asbestos Exposure in the U.S. Coast Guard
Coast Guard vessels built between 1930 and the 1970s used asbestos products from end to end and top to bottom. Asbestos was prominent in engine and boiler rooms where it was used as insulation, sound deadener, and fire control. Wires, pipes and conduits were coated with asbestos. It was used on ceilings, in flooring and all around bunks where Coast Guard sailors slept.
Coast Guard members who worked in the construction and refitting of vessels had the highest risk due to asbestos fibers becoming airborne during assembly and disassembly. World War II Coast Guard veterans were commonly exposed to asbestos as many Coast Guard ships were converted into warships for the Navy.
Coast Guard veterans were also at risk in their shore facilities. Workers in shipyards and repair docks were constantly exposed to asbestos products, including dangerous dust from removal, repair, and replacement of asbestos components. Even Coast Guard housing presented asbestos problems through construction materials.
Coast Guard jobs with the highest risks of asbestos exposure include:
- Engine and Boiler Room Technicians
- Hull Maintenance Technicians
Coast Guard at-sea jobs with the highest risk of asbestos exposure were below-deck positions where airborne fibers were highly concentrated and ventilation was poor. Most Coast Guard veterans who served above-deck have a low risk of developing mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Treatments for Coast Guard Veterans
Prolonged asbestos exposure can lead to the development of mesothelioma in Coast Guard veterans. When inhaled and/or ingested, asbestos fibers become lodged deep within the linings of the lungs and/or abdomen. After a period of 20 to 40 years, the fibers cause enough irritation to trigger mesothelioma cancer.
While mesothelioma can’t currently be cured, there are effective treatments that control the disease and allow you to live comfortably.
Three main mesothelioma treatments are:
- Removing mesothelioma tumors with precise surgical procedures
- Delivering radiation therapy to shrink tumors
- Preventing cells from spreading and growing through chemotherapy drugs
There are other promising mesothelioma treatments undergoing experimentation in clinical trials. These emerging treatments are available to Coast Guard veterans.
Examples of up-and-coming treatments include:
- Genetic therapy: Genes are modified and their codes are rewritten at the DNA level
- Immunotherapy: The body’s immune system is enhanced to better fight tumors
- Photodynamics: Amplified light and photosensitizer drugs work to control cancer cells
Other medical advancements for treating mesothelioma show promise and hope. Researchers are developing new targeted drugs and chemotherapies through clinical trials available to Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma specialists are also working to adjust treatment protocols to ensure they treat more veterans successfully.
Mesothelioma Support for Coast Guard Veterans
Coast Guard veterans should be aware that their government department did not intentionally put them at risk of long-term asbestos exposure. This responsibility belongs to the individual manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos products. Most companies were well aware of the dangers and kept this information secret from the Coast Guard and other military branches.
As with the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, government compensation for mesothelioma is available for Coast Guard veterans. Those exposed to asbestos who developed an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma are eligible for Service Connected (SC) compensation benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).
Talk to your doctor today about getting a referral to a top mesothelioma treatment center. Working with a mesothelioma specialist is the best way to ensure you extend your life expectancy and improve your quality of life.