Veterans with Mesothelioma and the Unique Challenges They Face

Veterans with mesothelioma and their caregivers face unique challenges. Patients and their caregivers often feel anxiety, depression, and stress. But we do not know enough about the experiences of veterans with mesothelioma or their caregivers.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield spoke to six veterans and their family caregivers. They wanted to find out more about their experiences with mesothelioma.

Understanding the Experiences of Veterans with Mesothelioma

The results of these interviews were published in the scientific journal Cancer Nursing Practice.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that grows in the lining of organs like the lungs. It is caused by exposure to a toxic mineral called asbestos.

Mesothelioma is also a rare disease that has a poor outlook. It grows faster than most other cancers. And there are fewer treatment options. These and other factors mean the experience of mesothelioma is different than that of other cancers.

Insights from Veterans and Caregivers on Mesothelioma’s Impact

Past studies have shown that patients and their caregivers often feel anxiety, depression, and stress. But we do not know enough about the experiences of veterans with mesothelioma, or their caregivers.

Researchers wanted to find out more about this unique population of mesothelioma patients. They used a research method called interpretative phenomenological analysis. This method helps researchers explore meaningful issues to people, like illness experience.

The veterans and their caregivers shared that being in the military affected how they felt about their mesothelioma diagnosis. They found it helpful to stay strong, keep their sense of humor, have goals, and think about others.

But sometimes, following military rules like loyalty caused trust issues and made them angry. The military’s way of communicating, where only necessary information is shared, also affected how they felt.

“I felt like a little hamster on a wheel, trying to catch up with the pain control,” said one caregiver participant.

The researchers suggest that nurses should learn about the specific things that veterans and their caregivers go through because of their military background. This knowledge will help nurses take care of them better and understand their needs.


Sherborne V, Tod A, Taylor B. Mesothelioma: Exploring psychological effects on veterans and their family caregivers. Cancer Nurs Pract. 2023;22(3). doi: 10.7748/cnp.2023.e1831. https://journals.rcni.com/cancer-nursing-practice/evidence-and-practice/mesothelioma-exploring-psychological-effects-on-veterans-and-their-family-caregivers-cnp.2023.e1831/full

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