How Veterans Affairs Is Helping To Lead The Way On Prostate Cancer Research
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among Americas veterans population. An estimated 500,000 veterans are living with a prostate cancer diagnosis today. So it makes sense that the Veterans Health Administration would make prostate cancer research a priority. One of the latest developments is a partnership with the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Among other things, its helped to fund research into precision oncology treatments that are tailored to each patients specific physiology. Dr. Matt Rettig is the chief oncologist at the VA of Greater Los Angeles. He joined Federal Drive with Tom Temin to talk about some of the research questions VAs trying to answer.
What Is An Exposure Exam
To help the VA track the effects of exposure to this agent, they offer comprehensive health exams to veterans that may have been exposed. This is one of the free services they offer in regards to this agent. This exam will help to determine your personal benefits. However, it also helps the VA to understand the long term effects of this agent to better serve our veterans.
How Can I Get My Benefits
In order to receive compensation and free health care services, you must be a veteran. You must also be able to prove that you are sick. It is important to have the necessary documentation of your services and any paperwork from your health care provider. Keep all documentation of appointments, billing, diagnosis, and medications that you have taken for any condition that you believe is linked to Agent Orange.
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What Are The Current Presumptives
Below are the categories of veterans who have presumptives established.
If a veteran is diagnosed with chronic diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, or hypertension, within one year of their release from active duty, the VA will presume that the conditon originated during military service.
Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange
If a Vietnam Veteran has any of the following conditions, the VA will presume that the condition was caused by exposure to Agent Orange.
- Hodgkins Disease
- Pellagra and any other nutritional deficiency
- Peripheral Neuropathy, except where directly related to infectious causes
More information can be found at the VAs American Former Prisoners of War Website. In addition, the White River Junction VA Medical Center has a Former Prisoner of War Coordinator.
- White River Junction Former Prisoner of War Coordinator 687-8387, extension 5362
Veterans exposed to radiation from atomic weapons, fallout, and nuclear reactors also have presumptive conditions. There are 21 different types of cancers related to exposure to radiation. We recommend any veteran who was exposed to radiation and later develops cancer to apply for Disability Compensation. For more information, visit the visit the VAs Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards Website.
Gulf War Illness
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
How Does Va Calculate The Disability Rating For My Cancer
VA uses ratings tables published in the Code of Federal Regulations to rate medical conditions. The disability rating given by VA in the rating decision should depend on your particular type of cancer and the severity of it. Some examples of ratings tables for the different types of cancer are discussed below.
Chronic B-cell Leukemias
Leukemia is rated using diagnostic code 7703. Leukemia should be rated at 100% when it is in the active treatment phase.
|With active disease or during a treatment phase||100|
|Otherwise rate as anemia or aplastic anemia , whichever would result in the greater benefit.|
|Note: The 100 percent rating shall continue beyond the cessation of any surgical, radiation, antineoplastic chemotherapy or other therapeutic procedures. Six months after discontinuance of such treatment, the appropriate disability rating shall be determined by mandatory VA examination. Any change in evaluation based upon that or any subsequent examination shall be subject to the provisions of §3.105 of this chapter. If there has been no recurrence, rate on residuals.|
Six months after treatment is completed, there should be a mandatory VA examination and additional ratings should be based on residuals if there has been no recurrence.
Hodgkins disease is rated using diagnostic code 7709. Hodgkins disease should be rated at 100% when it is in the active treatment phase.
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Agent Orange Exposure In Thailand
VA also recognizes that veterans whose service involved duty on or near the perimeters of certain Royal Thai Air Force Bases in Thailand between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 may have been exposed to Agent Orange as well. While Thailand veterans are not entitled to the same presumptions, they may still qualify for VA disability benefits if they can prove exposure on a facts-found basis. We have done extensive research regarding herbicide exposure in Thailand and have experiencing representing veterans in these claims.
Will The Va Help With Health Coverage
The VA is committed to helping veterans get the best possible free health care services. To help with this, they have programs that may cover your medication costs 100%. Your coverage will depend on a wide variety of factors such as your condition, when and where you served, what medications you need, your income, etc. If you need help with the costs of your medications or are struggling and want the best free health care services for veterans, make sure to contact your local VA office as soon as possible.
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Fully Developed Disability Claims
The next fasted option is the Fully Developed Disability Claims program.
The primary difference between the FDDC program and filing a standard claim is the Veteran must provide all evidence upfront and certify theres no additional evidence needed to make a claim decision.
At a minimum, the Veteran should provide:
- All military personnel records on the condition, and
- All service treatment records on the condition, and
- All private medical records on the condition, and
- All VA health records or supplementary information about related VA health records that the VA can request on your behalf
If the VA requires additional information, the claim typically gets removed from the FDDC program and is processed as a standard claim.
Other Things Veterans Can Do For Their Health
Be sure your doctor knows if you have a history of Agent Orange exposure. Because of the possibility of increased cancer risk, your doctor might advise you to get cancer screening tests and to promptly report any suspicious symptoms.
Of course, veterans are at risk for many types of cancer just like everyone else, even if they havent been exposed to Agent Orange. You can lower your risk of cancer by quitting smoking, staying at a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, and eating a healthy diet .
If you are concerned about past exposure to Agent Orange, you may want to join a support group online or through your local VA hospital.
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Agent Orange Linked To Many Diseases
If you or a loved one served during the Vietnam War, you are likely familiar with Agent Orange. Agent Orange is a chemical warfare agent that has been linked to a wide variety of health issues in veterans. If you were exposed to this agent, you may suffer from one of several conditions. Some of these are: Multiple Myeloma, Hodgkins Disease, Diabetes, B-cell Leukemias, Prostate Cancer, soft tissue sarcomas, Al Amyloidosis, and more.
What Is Agent Orange And How Were People Exposed To It
“Agent Orange” refers to a blend of tactical herbicides the U.S. military sprayed in the jungles of Vietnam and around the Korean demilitarized zone to remove trees and dense tropical foliage that provided enemy cover. Herbicides were also used by the U.S. military to defoliate military facilities in the U.S. and in other countries as far back as the 1950s.
For the purposes of VA compensation benefits, veterans who served anywhere in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides, as specified in the Agent Orange Act of 1991. They don’t need to show that they were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides in order to get disability compensation for diseases related to Agent Orange exposure.
Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam were used, tested or stored elsewhere, including some military bases in the United States. Other locations/scenarios in which veterans were exposed to Agent Orange may include:
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How The Va Rates Prostate Cancer
The VA has established a rating system for prostate cancer based on the severity of the symptoms. This rating system falls under genitourinary conditions . Prostate cancer is rated according to voiding dysfunction or urinary tract infection .
If surgery is required for prostate cancer, the VA will award a temporary 100 percent rating post-surgery. The VA will schedule a follow-up exam at a VA medical center about six months after the surgery in order to determine whether or not the 100 percent rating is still warranted.
If there is no metastasis, the VA will then rate the residuals according to voiding dysfunction or renal dysfunction , which usually comes to a 10 percent rating. Court cases have determined that the VA can reduce the 100 percent rating only after the cessation of surgical, X-ray, antineoplastic chemotherapy, or other therapeutic procedure. The term therapeutic according to DC 7528 is interpreted as the procedures to cure cancer and the disease.
What Are The Requirements For Eligibility
So then, what are the requirements for eligibility? As a rule, you will need the following:
1. The Veteran served as a member of the Armed Forces in Vietnam from 1962 to 1972.2. The applicant was either a survivor of a deceased Vietnam Veteran or totally disabled.3. The Veteran took a test of provable exposure to the tactical herbicide based on the circumstances of the Veterans service .4.Any accidents or traumatic occurrences did not cause disability or death.5. The disability or death happened before December 31, 1994.
For the most part, getting your records in order before applying will be to your advantage. Consequently, the application process will go smoothly.
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Vietnam Veterans Need To Know About Va Benefits
When I got sick and could no longer work, my wife and I were really getting nervous. Bills were piling up and, though we have health insurance from her job, it didnt cover everything. It really was by chance that I found out I could get help from the VA because Im a Vietnam veteran. I dont know why I didnt think of it. I suspect that there are many Vietnam veterans who are seriously sick and dont know that their conditions could have been caused because they were in Vietnam. They need to know that they can apply for financial help, and get it, like I did.
What Exactly Is Agent Orange
The United States sprayed this agent as a means to help eliminate the dense parts of the forest during the Vietnam war. It is a strong and tactical herbicide that is only used for military means. The name comes from an identifying stripe on the containers in which this substance was shipped and stored.
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Prostate Cancer Common Among Veterans
Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer for male veterans after skin cancer. There are over 200,000 prostate cancer cases in the United States every year. African-American veterans are at an even greater risk for developing prostate cancer than the average population. About one-in-six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
The good news is that nearly 100% of men diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer are still alive nearly five years after diagnosis. Prostate cancer grows very slowly, often causing no symptoms until its in an advanced stage. Most veterans with prostate cancer die of other causes and many veterans with prostate cancer never know they had it.
Agent Orange Exposure Linked To Deadliest Form Of Prostate Cancer In Vietnam War Vets
May 14, 2013 / 3:00 PM / CBS News
Exposure to Agent Orange may be behind many cases of an aggressive form of prostate cancer being seen in Vietnam War veterans, according to new research.
Millions of gallons of herbicide Agent Orange was sprayed by the U.S. military on trees and other vegetation during the Vietnam War era, and has been linked to various health effects since. The combination of herb-killers was named for the orange identifying stripe used on the 55-gallon drums that stored the chemicals.
The authors of the new study say the herbicide was often contaminated with dioxin, a dangerous toxin that may cause cancer.
Veterans who served anywhere in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 may have been exposed to the chemical, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Department has linked exposure to the chemical to various health conditions including AL amyloidosis, chronic B-cell leukemias, Type 2 diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, Non-Hodgkin ischemic heart disease, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer, among other conditions.
The VA says veterans with prostate cancer who were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service may be eligible for disability compensation and health care.
The study had limitations, according to Dr. Arnold Schecter of the University of Texas School of Public Health’s Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Program in Dallas.
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Va Disability Rating For Enlarged Prostate
A disability rating is a percentage that the VA uses to score the severity of a condition and determine the amount of compensation that a veteran should receive for living with the effects of this disability.
The VA determines which rating system they will use based on the diagnostic code assigned to that disability. VA diagnostic code 7527 is the code assigned to prostate gland injuries, infections, etc. This code provides that these types of injuries should be rated under the voiding dysfunction or urinary tract infection rating system, based on whichever symptoms are predominant.
BPH is categorized under diagnostic code 7527. Therefore, the VA disability rating applied to this condition would be either under the voiding dysfunction or UTI rating system.
New Conditions On The Agent Orange Presumptive List
Following the passing of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, there are now three new conditions on the Agent Orange presumptive list. These conditions include:
- Bladder Cancer
- Hypothyroidism: A condition occurs when the thyroid doesnt produce enough hormones
- Parkinsonism: A condition with symptoms of Parkinsons Disease, including tremors, impaired speech, muscle stiffness, and slow movement
The addition of these conditions means that many more veterans will be eligible for VA disability benefits. If you filed a claim for one of these conditions in the past, the VA will automatically review your case to see if youre now eligible.
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What About My Children
Generally speaking, your child can qualify for payout and benefits. Spina bifida is a spinal cord birth defect and it may be linked to the herbicide. If you served in Vietnam, in or near the Korean DMZ, or Thailand, and your child has spina bifida or other birth defects, then the child can receive disability benefits. Check below to see if your children may be eligible.
1. One of the childs biological parents served in the areas during the periods stated above.2. They diagnosed the child with a form of spina bifida except for spina bifida occulta, and3. They conceived the child after the parent went to the Republic of Vietnam, the DMZ, or Thailand during the qualified periods mentioned above.
These requirements should be true for child eligibility from spina bifida or other birth defects. As stated earlier, you will need to provide proof.
Agent Orange Payouts For Veterans
The Vietnam War in the 1960s prompted the U.S. military to use a toxic chemical herbicide. Agent Orange was used to defoliate forests. Subsequently, the enemys food source was attacked. Agent Orange contained dangerously toxic dioxin.
Its intended purpose was purely tactical. However, Agent Orange as well as other chemical herbicides horribly impacted the health of people exposed to them.
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What If The Disease Was Not On The List
In addition to the conditions listed above, some Veterans may feel that their specific illness is Agent Orange related. If you feel this is true in your case, you will need to verify with the evidence listed below.
1. You need to acquire medical and scientific evidence and prove that the illness is caused by exposure to the herbicide.2. You need to submit a medical record that shows your current disability that Agent Orange exposure caused.3. Prove that there is a connection between the chemical herbicide and your disability. Additionally, you need to show that the illness began or progressed during your service in the military.
Lastly, submit a military record that shows the location and dates of your military service similar to those stated above.Especially helpful would be to request a health exam to determine further if you have an Agent Orange related illness
Veterans And Prostate Cancer
One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. While studies have indicated that overall cancer incidence rates among men in the U.S. Veterans Affairs Health System mirrored those of the general population, statistics now show that the incidence rate for military personnel is 1 in 5. It is important to understand your personal risk. To help Veterans impacted by this disease, ZERO has set up programming specific to Veterans and their needs.
The United States has an aging veteran population, and your risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. Furthermore, veterans who were exposed to herbicides, such as Agent Orange, are also at increased risk. Talk with your healthcare team to understand your risk and make a plan for regular testing.
ZERO also has helpful PDFs available for print and download that provide information on the Mission Act for both patients and physicians. , and here for a PDF for physicians.
Another healthcare program available for uniformed service members and their families is TRICARE. TRICARE is a major part of the Military Health System and offers an expansive provider network and services in both military and civilian healthcare facilities. .
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