A man who was known as “The Mayor” of Landon Road in his hometown of Belfair, Washington has died from the asbestos cancer called mesothelioma.
Robert W. Landon was a veteran of the U.S. Merchant Marines and served during World War II. He was part of the South Pacific theater of operations, and worked in the engine rooms of tankers, C-2 cargo ships and Victory cargo ships. While performing his duty, Landon was likely exposed to asbestos—an insulating material that was used in hundreds of products, like gaskets, flanges, pipes and furnaces. It was particularly valued aboard military ships during the war. Unfortunately, asbestos is also extremely harmful to humans. Asbestos dust, which is released through the cutting, damaging or, in some cases, even just the normal handling of asbestos-containing materials, can be inhaled. When it lodges into the thin membrane that lines the chest cavity and protects the lungs, called the mesothelium, it can cause tumors to form.
The most common type of asbestos cancer is malignant pleural mesothelioma. It is often inoperable and difficult to treat, because of the diffuse nature of the tumor and the fact that it is usually not diagnosed until it has reached advanced stages. In fact, since mesothelioma can remain latent within the body for decades, people can be living with this cancer for a very long time and not even know it.
Mesothelioma is particularly prevalent in veterans, especially those who were stationed on board ships, due to its heavy maritime use. Other occupations that are at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases include plumbers, pipefitters, machinists, boilermakers, electricians, millworkers, and construction workers.
This form of cancer is rare, only diagnosed in 3,000 people annually in the United States. It has an extremely short life expectancy associated with it, and most patients die within a few months of learning that they have mesothelioma. Although therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be used, it is usually inoperable.