While nothing can be done to reverse the effects of the asbestos exposure experienced during your time of service, there are several different treatment options available for veterans who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
Angiogenesis Inhibitors: Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels, a process that aids the development of cancerous tumors. Angiogenesis inhibitors work to prevent this process from happening, in efforts to “starve” the tumor of nutrients and oxygen provided by blood vessels in the body.
Gene therapy: Because of the risks, gene therapy is often considered by mesothelioma patients who are not given long to live after diagnosis. The treatment comes in two forms, knockout and replacement gene therapy. Knockout gene therapy works by rendering a gene inoperative to prevent tumors from forming. Replacement gene therapy replaces a damaged or missing gene to regulate cell growth and division.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy uses parts of an affected individual’s own immune system to fight different types of asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. This biologic therapy is done by stimulating the immune system to more effectively attack cancer cells.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT): Studies have shown that photodynamic therapy can significantly improve the survival of mesothelioma patients after surgery. Photodynamic therapy is a light-based therapy in which a photosensitizing drug is injected in the body’s tissues. Cancerous cells will absorb the drugs and are then exposed to light, triggering the production of a highly reactive form of oxygen which kills the mesothelioma cells.
Clinical Trials: There are many clinical trials out there offering hope to asbestos victims. Clinical trials exist to study the safety and effectiveness of new drugs and procedures to treat the various asbestos-related diseases. You can search ClinicalTrials.gov to see if there are clinical trials currently recruiting patients.
Surgery: There are various surgeries available for veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer. Some have proven to dramatically increase the survival rate of patients, and are commonly combined with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Alternative Therapies: Alternative therapies, including acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbal supplements, and more, are often used to improve a veteran’s quality of life after diagnosis with an asbestos-related disease. While not intended to cure a patient’s disease, alternative therapies can relieve symptoms and stress associated with asbestos cancers and other asbestos-related conditions.
If you are interested in finding a medical center that might be able to treat your asbestos-related disease caused by time served in the U.S. Military, see this list.
There are several caregiving options available for veterans who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. Oftentimes it is a family member that takes on the role as a veteran’s caregiver, providing support and assistance to the best of their abilities. The Veteran’s Administration has a Caregiver Program designed especially for family members, extended family members, or other individuals who live with the veteran. You can read more about the VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program on their website to find out if you are eligible for assistance and resources for caring for your veteran. A family caregiver can enhance the health and well being of a veteran under VA care.
Given that the life expectancy of a veteran with an asbestos-related cancer like mesothelioma drops to one to two years after diagnosis, a Hospice nurse might become necessary. A Hospice program will aid the Veteran as well as the caregiver, and is usually implemented toward the end of the Veteran’s life (around 6 months). Hospice care can be provided at the Veteran’s private home, nursing home, assisted living facility, or other place of residence.