One of the most devastating chapters in the history of America’s Armed Forces is the role that the military played in exposing so many veterans to the risk of malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. In the run-up to World War II and the years that followed, military buyers were intent on providing service men and women with the greatest possible protection against heat and flame, and to that end they ordered that asbestos be included in all applicable equipment, infrastructure, and supplies: they were unaware that the material’s protective characteristics were countered by its carcinogenic nature. Today more than one third of America’s victims of mesothelioma are veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their time of service. But now an agreement between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Cancer Institute will offer those diagnosed with this rare form of cancer as well as other types of cancer the opportunity to more easily engage in national clinical trials that offer them the ability to access cutting edge medical technology.
The new agreement does not specify malignant mesothelioma as its target, but there is no doubt that those afflicted with the rare and fatal form of cancer will get a great deal of benefit from it. Where veterans were previously unable to access clinical trials for immunotherapy and other precision types of medicine because they were limited to the services available through the VA centers, 12 different Veterans’ care centers will now be able to participate in those trials that are funded by outside agencies. They will also be provided with staff and resources to help them match patients with those trials and to teach them how to access those resources so that they will be able to continue pursuing these trials on their own after the three-year program is complete.
The facilities that will be offering access to clinical trials for veterans with mesothelioma and other types of cancer will be spread around the country, located in Atlanta; the Bronx, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; Denver; Durham, North Carolina; Hines, Illinois; Long Beach, California; Minneapolis; Palo Alto, California; Portland, Oregon; San Antonio; and West Haven, Connecticut. Speaking of her hopes for the program, VA Chief Research and Development Officer Rachel Ramoni said, “By increasing enrollment in cancer clinical trials, VA and veterans will be contributing to important oncology research. This will not only help our veterans, but also advance cancer care for all Americans, and people around the world.”
Veterans with mesothelioma also have the ability to pursue legal actions against the companies that provided the asbestos-contaminated products to the military. For information on your legal rights, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.