On March 1, VA announced its intention of adding nine rare respiratory cancers to the list of presumed service-connected disabilities in relation to exposure to toxic chemicals in the air, water, or soil for Veterans who served any amount of time in the Southwest Asia theater of operations.

Veterans, dependents and survivors who had claims previously denied for any of the below respiratory cancers would be encouraged to file a new or supplemental claim for benefits once the rule-making process is complete:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the larynx;
  • SCC of the trachea;
  • Adenocarcinoma of the trachea;
  • Salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea;
  • Adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung;
  • Large cell carcinoma of the lung;
  • Salivary gland-type tumors of the lung;
  • Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung and;
  • Typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung.

Any Veteran who had one of these cancers manifest to a degree of 0% or more at any time during or after separation would be eligible for service-connection.

VHA’s Health Outcomes Military Exposures team began a focused review of scientific and medical evidence related to exposure to fine particulate matter and the subsequent development of rare respiratory cancers. Its research affirmed a biologic plausibility between airborne hazards and carcinogenesis of the respiratory tract.

Based on these findings, VA Secretary Denis McDonough is proposing a rule that will add presumptive service connection for these rare respiratory cancers for certain Veterans.

VA intends to focus its rule on the rare respiratory cancers above in Veterans who served any amount of time in the Southwest Asia theater of operations and other locations. VA will invite and consider public comments as part of this process.

Once rule making is complete, VA will conduct outreach to impacted Veterans and survivors to inform them about potential eligibility.

By Bryan Lett is a USMC Veteran and public affairs specialist for VBA’s Office of Strategic Engagement

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Published on Mar. 1, 2022

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37 Comments

  1. T J johnson March 22, 2022 at 11:48 am

    Thank you

  2. Alan March 5, 2022 at 9:49 pm

    Is sarcoidosis considered in the list? I developed pulmonary sarcoidosis 2 years after separation which led to cardiac sarcoidosis.

  3. Bonnie Towe March 5, 2022 at 8:18 pm

    My husband has ttr amyloidosis, we see that AL amylodosis is a va disability for viet nam vets, well is ttr (cardiac amyloidosis) a disability condition.

  4. R. Inthisane March 4, 2022 at 3:31 pm

    I served in Jordan in 2015. I was Infantry and was physically fit, nearly maxed out every APFT taken. After the Jordan deployment I came home and would keep getting sick atleast once a month for the follwing 3-4 months. Each time I would go to emergency room and was told I had pneumonia, given antibiotics and sent home. I would get better and carried on about my normal life until weeks later back at ER for same chest pain, high fever, etc. After the 4th trip to ER for the same symptoms, long story shot, doctors dug a little deeper and found a malignant tumor in my left lung. Next day I was operated on and the tumor, along with half of my left lung, was removed. I was in the National Guard and because I was on “profile” for proceeding months after, I received a letter from my state’s Governor advising “because I failed to meet retention standards (completing a PT test) I had 2 options. 1) don’t worry about the 1 year left in my contract and discharge from military with status of Honorable or 2) Fight them by going to go see an 3rd party doctor and/or do a PT test. I was young and prideful and took option #1. I was 26 years old. I never filed for disability compensation until now (Jan 2022). And now this comes out about “Rare respiratory cancers”. I’m still waiting on on VA to “review” all of my stuff to make a decision on my claim for the lung cancer. Does anyone know what my odds would be? Thanks

  5. Tom Carty March 4, 2022 at 3:08 pm

    Just wondering what’s happened to the lawsuit filed by the country of Panama against the United States for storing and using Agent Orange in their country.
    Did the Obama administration make it disappear?
    Lot of us 11bravos served there in the jungles.

  6. Phil Miltenberger March 4, 2022 at 12:52 pm

    Every soldier who served in Agent Orange country who has COPD should step forward and get signed up.

  7. Sandra Altsman March 3, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    Is colon cancer going to be added from agent orange?

  8. Katherine Maurer March 3, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    My father did 3 tours in Nam. He quit smoking 5 years before he died of lung cancer at the age of FIFTY. We know Nam did it but can’t get ahold of his records. Doesn’t my Mom deserve something for becoming a widow at 49? She followed him around the world for 22 or 23 years!

  9. Alton Wayne Cottrell March 3, 2022 at 4:34 pm

    I developed adenoma cancer of my esophagus last year 2021 and hope this diagnosis is part of this list, i.e. “The pharynx is part of the respiratory and digestive systems, and it extends from the nose to the trachea and esophagus.” (Medically reviewed by Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP — Written by Jamie Eske on March 4, 2021.) I am a Vietnam Veteran 1968-1969. I agree with the March 2, 2022 406statement noted above ” there are numerous presumptive cancers in the same general area as the esophagus, i.e. thoracic, throat, larynx, etc. but not the esophagus. How is this soft tissue excluded? I would appreciate some insight into this dilemma.” The trachea is immediately posterior to the trachea & interact with each other.

  10. Robin M. Creighton March 3, 2022 at 4:05 pm

    Will Camp LeJeune be included as one of the involved sites, due to the contaminated water there? I was diagnosed with SCLC in 2018 and was stationed at Mount Fort, one of the contaminated water sites during the given timeframe.

    • Heather March 4, 2022 at 3:27 pm

      M6 father was also at Camp LeJeune in the 60s and ended up with RARE cancer the V.A. says is not one of the cancers. I would think dry cleaning fluid run off into the drinking water for any period of time would be the cause of any cancer! Still this is respiratory but i did see it mentioned from water but where are these cancers included???

  11. frederick fetty jr March 3, 2022 at 1:37 pm

    I noticed that President Biden mentioned waste burn pit exposure in his State Of The Union address yesterday. If Biden mentioned it in his speech, it must be a real condition that our veterans should be compensated for if exposed to, CORREVT???

  12. Russell W Gilbert March 3, 2022 at 12:29 pm

    I served in Viet Nam and I am receiving 80% disability pay. I recently submitted claims for hyperthyroidism and Parkinsonism. The Hyperthyroidism was denied for any disability increase because I have not had surgery for this malady or not taking any meds for bit except Vit D.
    As far a Parkinsonism, I have been waiting since June 21 for a ruling. What good is a presumptive condition if it doesn,’t have any benefit for a soldier who served? I have also been subjected to burn pits during my term of service in Vietnam with a heart condition, High blood pressure, and chronic kidney disease. When will these conditions be recognized at 100% disability? If I die, as a result, all these conditions will be dismissed like all of our fallen heroes!

  13. Harold LaCount March 3, 2022 at 12:10 pm

    Has anyone taken into account for Vietnam Vets exposed to Agent Orange that are having abnormally high platelet tests (Thrombocytosis) which puts the Vet at high risks for clots?

  14. George Soulier March 3, 2022 at 11:51 am

    I am disappointed that exposure to radiation hotspots on Johnston Island in the seventies, as well as stored chemicals AO, nerve gas, and many others present on the island is not being considered in claims.

  15. Bob March 3, 2022 at 11:39 am

    I am truly sorry about my fellow Vietnam vets that are still having uncovered medical problems probably caused by Agent Orange, but can’t we all be happy that our soldiers that fought in SWA are getting some more coverage for the medical problems they are facing?

    Vietnam, June 1971-January 1973, An Khe, Ban Me Tuit (probably misspelled), Nha Trang, and a few other unnamed locations

  16. BARBARA LOONEY March 3, 2022 at 11:31 am

    my husband served in Germany 1959 came out only to suffer with many forms of cancer from not sure carcinoma or sarcoma in back and rt. hip to prostate on to stomach which he only has 35% left now m-myeloma which is attacking kidneys among hearing loss and syncope for years he has been denied stating it is not covered or wrong diagnose where is the help hope some thing can be done for this before he leaves this world i can name other heath issues pertaining to the cancer but will only be put on back log or he will be denied just as he has many times due to poor documentation please add all forms of cancers you just don’t know until problem hits the surface! thank you.

  17. John Charles Pitcher March 3, 2022 at 10:23 am

    I am a Vietnam vet and I was diagnosed in 2009 with scleroderma (CREST). This is a rare disease for men (especially older men) and I believe this is connected to my exposure to Agent Orange during 1969-70.

    Question: how many other Vietnam vets have been diagnosed with scleroderma and how many have tried to claim service connected disability for scleroderma?

  18. Cindy Bradford March 3, 2022 at 10:04 am

    My dad was in WWII, he had Throat CA, Bladder CA, Skin CA, Lung CA, Bowel CA, Prostate CA… he has now passed a few years back, any compensation to his loved ones?

  19. D. Serritella March 3, 2022 at 9:31 am

    When will the VA address Blast Exposure? They admit that it is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) yet nothing is being done to aid or compensate all of the veterans who have suffered for years with this ailment. It affected soldiers in combat arms both in combat and non combat areas that were subjected to explosions and loud noise.

  20. Armand Renga March 3, 2022 at 9:15 am

    I developed adenoma cancer of my esophagus on Nov 2020 and believe this diagnosis should be part of this list. I have gone to the VA and hope I will get the support I need.

  21. Timothy Ruff March 3, 2022 at 8:50 am

    How about Interstichial Lung Disease with Unknown cause?

  22. THOMAS RUTH March 3, 2022 at 3:12 am

    Respritory problems from breathing contaminated air maybe moving forward Tom SEA 1967

  23. Marcy Garcia March 2, 2022 at 10:42 pm

    What about gastric cancers from eating chemical soaked foods in the Southeast Asia Theatre from 1963-1975?

  24. Tim March 2, 2022 at 9:42 pm

    Please include cancer of the eye. The eyes are exposed just as much as the respiratory tract.

  25. Christopher Ellis March 2, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    Is Kidney cancer a disability? I served in Vietnam in 1968.

    • Janis Johnson March 3, 2022 at 8:25 am

      My husband had kidney cancer too. He served in 70-71. So far he has been denied even though they pay for bladder and prostate cancer due to Agent Orange.

  26. Jon Woolery March 2, 2022 at 8:29 pm

    The article notes that the addition of diseases applies to those who served in southwest Asia “and other locations.” Would Vietnam be one of those other locations?

  27. Daryl Durham March 2, 2022 at 8:21 pm

    What about Vietnam veterans ?

  28. Michael Smith March 2, 2022 at 7:58 pm

    I served in Southeast Asia in 68-69 and developed heart issues due to exposure to agent orange. This was investigated and confirmed by the VA for which I am receiving 30% disability. Two years ago I developed esophageal cancer which despite treatment by the VA including surgery left me with a different lifestyle. My issue is this, there are numerous presumptive cancers in the same general area as the esophagus, i.e. thoracic, throat, larynx, etc. but not the esophagus. How is this soft tissue excluded? I would appreciate some insight into this dilemma.

  29. Ed Alt March 2, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    What restrictions will blue water navy veterans face?

  30. JASON MILLER March 2, 2022 at 6:26 pm

    I was diagnosed with SCC Esophagus Cancer in January 2019. Would the larynx SCC also cover the esophagus?

  31. PAUL SMULIAN March 2, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    While adding to the list of Presumptives, Paranasal Sinus Carcinoma should be included as well. This cancer is the same cancer as the rest and also in the respiratory tract. I had this type of cancer and it was rated at 10% which I feel is low given it continues to affect me 25 years later

  32. LMoriarty March 2, 2022 at 5:21 pm

    I am a valor decorated Vietnam veteran receiving dialysis treatment for kidney failure at the Kansas City.VA.Medocal Center, Agent Orange is related to high.blood pressure. It is time to compensate those os.us.who have been disabled by this herbicide

    I

  33. Dave March 2, 2022 at 4:51 pm

    Is whoever is in charge of the list of exposures, going to take into account exposures in CONUS and elsewhere as a result of exposure to unsanitized equipment that was processed in CONUS and exposures resulting from entering deploying aircraft.

  34. Constance J Broussard March 2, 2022 at 3:44 pm

    My Name is Constance Broussard my husband serve in Southeast Asia in 1969

  35. Suzanne Charleston March 2, 2022 at 7:59 am

    This is a good start. Please continue to connect burn pit illnesses to our Veterans deployment history so they get the care they need and have earned.

Comments are closed.

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