I was recently contacted by David Haas about featuring a guest post on this blog. As a cancer survivor and the proud wife of a retired Marine Sargent, I felt compelled to post this. Please read and share! And many thanks to our men and women in the military everywhere!
Cancer Programs for Veterans Nobody knows what causes cancer but medical scientists have long recognized that certain groups have higher rates of specific cancers than others. Among the occupational groups at highest risk for developing mesothelioma, melanoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, prostate and testicular cancers are military servicemen and servicewomen, according to a 2010 study conducted by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center. The results of the study were surprising to researchers. On the whole, the military population is younger and healthier than the civilian population. Of course, veterans have known about this health differential for a long time. While they are on active duty, veterans are frequently exposed to agents in the field that have come to be known subsequently as carcinogens. This was certainly the case for veterans of the Vietnam and the 1992 Gulf Wars. Fortunately, the Veterans Administration (VA) provides many services for veterans suffering from cancer. The Veterans Health Administration (VA) is the largest integrated healthcare network in the United States with over 153 hospitals, ambulatory clinics and extended nursing care facilities. In addition to primary care services, the VA network offers specialized oncology care for vets. Veterans need not have served in combat. So long as you were honorably discharged from the armed forces, you are eligible for VA health care. To find out more information about the medical benefits you are entitled to as a veteran, set your browser to http://www.va.gov/health/ default.asp. Nearly one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States are due to lung cancer. Surprisingly, 20,000 lung cancer cases are diagnosed every year among people who have never smoked cigarettes. All lung cancer diagnoses among Vietnam veterans are presumed to be secondary to Agent Orange exposure. Patients in whom the disease is diagnosed early stand the best chance of beating the disease, and the 2007 VA Appropriations Act supports early lung cancer screenings to facilitate early detection among the veteran population. Other cancers that have been linked with Agent Orange exposure include both Hodgkin and non- Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, soft tissue sarcomas, prostate cancer and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Any veteran diagnosed with these cancers receives expedited attention and treatment from the VA. In 1978, the VA set up an Agent Orange registry to facilitate the treatment of veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during their military service. These registries operate out of VA medical centers and provide veterans exposed to the lethal herbicide with a physical examination, basic lab tests and x-rays, and consultations with specialist health care providers when warranted.
To read more about this and what you can do, please check out the Mesothelioma blog. –Vanessa