While a diagnosis of mesothelioma is devastating for anyone, for veterans it is also disheartening to learn that this deadly asbestos cancer is often the result of exposure to asbestos while serving their country. A mesothelioma diagnosis is hard to swallow, regardless of how and where the disease originated. Obtaining medical support and optimal care is of the utmost importance and should be in the forefront of the mind of anyone who is diagnosed with this disease.
Mesothelioma is often diagnosed in its latest stages, so seeking appropriate treatment quickly is essential. Fortunately, there is a wide range of medical support available for veterans with mesothelioma. First, it is necessary to locate an oncologist who is trained and skilled in the treatment of this disease. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that not everyone is trained to treat. A thoracic oncologist is the best type of physician as he/she can suggest not only the proper mesothelioma treatment, but also recommend enrollment in clinical trials. An ailing veteran deserves every chance possible to extend his or her life.
Take time to find out where to receive the best medical support. Veterans don't need to limit themselves to VA hospitals. While veterans' networks may be able to suggest facilities where mesothelioma care is top-notch, it is largely up to the individual as to where to seek treatment. Specialists are located throughout the country. Generally, there are more mesothelioma specialists in urban areas and regions that have historically been most affected by the disease, including towns where naval shipyards are or were located.
Because mesothelioma cancer is most often diagnosed after it has done much damage, treatment options may be limited and medical support may include chemotherapy, radiation, or mesothelioma surgery and - in some cases - a combination of all three (multi-modality therapy). Many individuals also turn to alternative therapies, especially when seeking palliative care - which is treatment meant not to cure but to keep the patient comfortable. Palliative measures may include massage, meditation, acupuncture, and other non-traditional therapies.
Veteran-run organizations, like the Veterans Benefits Network, can help former U.S. Armed Forces members who are suffering from mesothelioma determine where they can seek treatment and how they can get the benefits they've earned, especially now that they are ill. Claim information is available from this network as are contacts for both medical and legal help. Many of these organizations also offer chat rooms or discussion boards where veterans with mesothelioma and other diseases can learn about and discuss their options for medical support with others like them.
Because mesothelioma has entered the spotlight more prominently in recent years, options for treatment and medical support for veterans with the disease continue to grow. Research also continues at a brisker pace, with more dollars being allocated to those who have dedicated their careers to studying the disease and coming up with new and better treatments for mesothelioma victims. Because of this, treatment has improved greatly over the last few years and stands to progress even further within the next decade or so.