Agent Orange is a herbicide used by the United States military during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, many soldiers returning from the war have developed health problems due to their exposure to Agent Orange. In this blog post, we will be discussing one of those health problems: colon cancer.
What is Agent Orange?
First, Agent Orange is a defoliant used to remove vegetation, tree cover and destroy cops around US Bases during the Vietnam War.
Exposure can occur in a variety of ways:
- Breathing the chemical in
- Consumption through contaminated food or drinks
- Absorption through the skin
The International Agney for Research on Cancer, the US National Toxicology Program, and the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine link multiple cancers to Agent Orange exposure.
There is no way to test for Agent Orange, so the VA presumes exposure if you performed active duty service when Agent Orange was heavily used in Vietnam.
Agent Orange exposure alters your DNA and causes your cells to divide rapidly, turning into tumors. These tumors can metastasize if not caught and turn into cancer. Agent Orange is most common in Vietnam veterans who served in the Vietnam War between January 9, 1962 – May 7, 1975.
One of the cancers experts think is caused by Agent Orange is colon cancer.
What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer is cancer that starts in the large intestine (colon). It is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States. Colon cancer can spread to other body parts, such as the liver or lungs.
Some of the symptoms that point to colon cancer include:
- Blood in stool
- Changes in bowel habits (such as constipation or diarrhea)
- Cramps or abdominal pain
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Colon polyps
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is essential to see your doctor as soon as possible.
What is the deal between colon cancer and agent orange?
Multiple studies out of the American Cancer Institute link prolonged Agent Orange exposure to increased colon cancer risk.
At this time, the Veteran’s Administration does not recognize colon cancer as presumptively caused by exposure to Agent Orange during military service.
Typically, veterans who receive VA disability compensation for cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure have been diagnosed with a recognized cancer by the VA and have submitted sufficient evidence to show either a service connection or a specific cause.
Unfortunately, you cannot have colon cancer automatically service connected for colon cancer because the VA does not recognize Agent Orange as a cause even though they recognize dozens of other cancers.
To show a specific cause, vets can present medical evidence to the VA or hire an expert to render an expert opinion on the matter. Specifically, the expert would need to show that the Agent Orange exposure led
Is it possible to service connect colon cancer?
Don’t give up now! Many veterans have had success in appealing denials of their claim for disability compensation and have been able to establish a service connection between Agent Orange and colon cancer.
The veteran submitted multiple letters and statements describing how his colon cancer affected his everyday life.
The veteran also submitted multiple notes and examinations from private doctors outside the VA health care system that proved his colon cancer was related to Agent Orange exposure.
What cancers are presumptively caused by Agent Orange exposure?
The VA has a list of presumptive cancers caused by agent orange. Those include:
- Soft tissue sarcoma
- Non-Hodgkins lymphoma
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- Monoclonal gammopathy
- Respiratory cancers
- Prostate cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Bladder cancer
Suppose you are experiencing one of the above cancers in addition to your colon cancer or pre-cancerous colon polyps. In that case, you may be able to receive VA disability compensation for your condition.
Contact your VA representative or VA regional office to start the claims process.
VA Claims for Colon Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer and think it is related to Agent Orange exposure during your active duty service, file a claim with the VA today. The scientific community believes Agent Orange exposure can increase your risk for colon cancer.
The VA may not recognize colon cancer as presumptively caused by exposure to Agent Orange now, but they may in the future. They changed their mind in 2021 and added Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism to the presumptive list.
In addition, you need to file a claim to appeal your decision. Remember: some veterans have had success on appeal and received service connection for colon cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure,
Don’t hesitate to reach out to the VA for help or our team at Hill & Ponton. The team at Hill & Ponton is highly experienced in helping veterans get the benefits they deserve.
What type of cancer is caused by Agent Orange?
The VA presumes Agent Orange causes several cancers. The VA currently recognizes the following cancers as caused by Agent Orange:
- Bladder Cancer
- Chronic B-cell leukemia
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Prostate cancer
- Lung cancer
- Larynx cancer
- Trachea cancer
- Bronchus cancer
- Soft tissue sarcomas
The VA may add to the list of cancers presumed to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange. You can stay updated on the current list at va.gov.
Does Agent Orange cause colon polyps?
The VA does not recognize colon polyps as caused by Agent Orange exposure. The VA denied this same claim in 2008. On the other hand, the scientific research community has noted that Agent Orange exposure may increase the development of colon polyps.
Only time will tell if the VA updates its guidance on colon polyps and Agent Orange exposure.
What is the average compensation for Agent Orange?
The average compensation for Agent Orange-related cancer is dependent on your symptom severity and ratings which determine your monthly compensation.
How do you know if you were affected by Agent Orange?
The Department of Veterans Affairs has a page on their website for Vietnam veterans to check if they were in an area sprayed with Agent Orange. The landmass of Vietnam is considered “boots on the ground” and presumptive for starters. There were also recent updates for Blue Water Navy. The page is AgentOrange.VA.gov.
If you cannot find your service information on AgentOrange.va.gov, you can call the VA at 800-772-1213.
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