A worrying trend has developed in recent years among veterans: a possible relationship between burn pit exposure and presumptive cancer. Understanding the seriousness of the issue and its effect on individuals who have served our country is crucial as we dig into this important issue.
What are Burn Pits?
Once considered a necessary evil, burn pits are now used to dispose of chemical waste, medical waste, and even bombs in the open air. There are a number of dangerous chemicals in the smoke that should be avoided at all costs.
Cancers that are presumed to be caused by a certain exposure but lack conclusive proof. New evidence suggests that veterans are at a higher risk of developing malignancies, including lung, brain, and throat, after being exposed to burn pits.
Connecting the Dots: Presumptive Cancers and Burn Pit Exposure
Prolonged exposure to burn pit emissions has been linked in recent research to an increased risk of acquiring cancer. Elderly populations are growing concerned about these cancers, which may be hard to pin down to a single source.
Presumptive cancers are those for which a connection to military service is suspected but not proven. The link between burn pit exposure and presumed cancers is a disturbing discovery that needs to be brought to light.
The Urgency of Recognition: Advocating for Change
Advocacy is important as veterans confront the terrifying reality of presumed cancer. As a matter of health and justice, the connection between burn pit exposure and these cancers must be investigated and remedied.
The VA recognizes presumptive conditions that demonstrate causality between a veteran's service and their health problem. The VA has expanded its coverage of presumptive cancers for Gulf War and post-9/11 Veterans.
Eligible Cancers and Qualifications
Several forms of cancer are now considered presumptive by the VA for qualified veterans. You may be eligible for disability compensation and VA health care if you have been diagnosed with one of these cancers and were exposed to burn pits or served in a qualifying region.
Presumptive Cancers Categorized
The VA recognizes the following categories of cancers as presumptive diagnoses:
- Brain, Head, Neck, and Nervous System Cancers:
- Brain and brain stem cancers
- Head cancers (scalp, face, mouth, aural areas, lips, and hard/soft palate)
- Neck cancers (neck, pharynx, larynx)
- Spinal cord cancers
- Gastrointestinal Cancers:
- Anal cancer
- Colorectal or colon cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Liver cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Kidney Cancers:
- Renal cell carcinoma
- Non-renal cell carcinoma
- B-cell lymphoma
- Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Rare lymphomas (anaplastic large cell, Burkitt, lymphoblastic, mantle-cell, mycosis fungoides, T-cell)
- Melanomas of the eye
- Melanomas of the skin
- Mucosal melanoma
- Pancreatic Cancers:
- Exocrine pancreatic cancers
- Neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer
- Reproductive Cancers:
- Female reproductive cancers (breast, cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, vulvar)
- Male reproductive cancers (penile, prostate, testicular)
- Respiratory Cancers:
- Cancers from nose to chest (bronchus, larynx, lung, pharynx, trachea)
Next Steps for Eligible Veterans
You have a few options if you think you match the service criteria for presumptive exposure:
- Filing a Disability Compensation Claim:
- If you are certain that you match the criteria, you may go on with submitting a claim for disability compensation.
- The VA offers instructions on how to get started with this procedure.
- Verifying Service Requirements:
- The VA suggests checking the criteria if you have any doubts about meeting the service requirements.
- You may also choose to begin the VA disability claim yourself and let the VA determine your eligibility.