Military veterans fought for this country and risked their lives for us, and now, many of them need our help.
Military personnel who have been exposed to chemicals and radiation such as Agent Orange, asbestos, or ionizing radiation may develop life-threatening malignancies from these cancer-causing agents.
While Vietnam veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange and Navy veterans to asbestos, all military personnel may be at risk because many are exposed to different types of chemicals at different time periods; be it Vietnam or the war in Iraq.
Veterans are at risk for all different types of cancer, but the most common are:
- Lung Cancer (caused by asbestos and/or Agent Orange)
- Mesothelioma Cancer (caused by asbestos)
- Prostate Cancer (caused by herbicide exposure)
- Skin Cancer (caused by ionizing radiation)
An article written in UCSD VA states that US veterans make up more than 30 percent of all patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma. Because of the correlation between certain cancer diagnoses and carcinogen exposure, the VA claims it provides multiple health care resources to veterans in need.
Many VA hospitals have taken the lead when it comes to caring for veterans with mesothelioma, while other VA hospitals have emerged in their areas of cancer care.
A 2012 study found that survival rates were higher among cancer patients, especially older males with colon and non-small-cell lung cancer, who obtained cancer treatment through the VA medical system compared to those who received care through Medicare. Rates were comparable for multiple myeloma, rectal cancer, and small-cell lung cancer. According to The Department of Health Care Policy, which conducted this study, the higher rate of survival may be attributed to higher rates of early diagnosis.
Could it be that early cancer detection is higher among veterans because of insurance coverage, compared to non-veterans without it?
Many VA hospitals offer necessary cancer care to their patients consisting of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, in additional to alternative therapies. Benefits for veterans are available to help pay for medical care.
Because many of these studies are conducted on men, another area we may soon need to consider is military women and their exposure. Are women not exposed to the same chemicals and radiation as men are?