Looking at the conditions that veterans are exposed to, anyone would assume that veterans have a
higher frequency of cancer diagnosis than the general population. Cancer diagnosis among veterans of the US army was made possible by VA. This administration has allocated resources and led from the front in researching cancer and finding the best way to treat and mitigate it. Despite all the good works done by Veterans Affairs, it must not be ignored that military service members have been getting all types of cancers due to the conditions they were exposed to.
In many cancer diagnoses, it becomes clear that the veterans were exposed to conditions that could have been avoided with attention to detail. The military could use more research and conclusion before using certain chemicals and substances. In many cases, it becomes evident only later that what these veterans continued to do resulted in lung cancer, prostate cancer, or some other increased cancer risk.
Several studies have been conducted so far to find out how veterans got cancer, how many got it, and how many received the care they deserved. Here are some essential notions for you to make.
According to the freshest reports, more than 50,000 veterans get cancer care at various clinics established by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Department of Veterans Affairs has set up these clinics and medical facilities all over the country, or 152 locations. It is alarming that the number of cancer diagnoses among veterans is increasing every year. Although their population is relatively small compared to the entire population of the US, veterans make up nearly 3% of all cancer cases in the country. This number is based on the VA Central Cancer Registry (VACCR) statistics.
Just in 2010, nearly 50,000 new cases of cancer patients were added to VA Central Cancer Registry. Statistics for 2022 are not out yet, but cancer registries or newly diagnosed patients will only increase in number according to the expected cancer frequency. The military has gotten worse since they began the Iraq War and Afghanistan War after 9/11.
According to the reportable cases in 2010, the following are the most commonly diagnosed cancers that occurred in the veteran population.
According to the cancer diagnosis of these patients, more than 97% of male cancer diagnoses have taken place compared to less than 3% of female cancers. While it may sound concerning to male veterans, it’s only a matter of population. There are more male military service members than female military service members.
VA cancer incidence estimates developed annually show that Melanoma, bladder, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer are among the most commonly diagnosed cancers in US military veterans. The breakdown will further show you which particular age group, ethnicity, race, etc., shows which patterns in cancer incidence rates. According to several reliable reports, more than 97% of all cancers occur in the veteran male population, whereas only 3% occur in women. This also shows the significant disparity in the male and female population in the army, so it should not be taken as though male veterans are more prone to cancer than female veterans.
Many of the patterns in the statistical analysis frequency distributions are due to the difference in populations of various races. For example, the percentage of white cancer patients was much higher than that of black cancer patients. If you look at the age, 65 years was the median age when VA patients newly diagnosed with cancer were taken into account.
According to a 2007 study of cancer patients treated by VA, the highest number of patients was in the 55 to 64 age group. At the time of this study, nearly 40,000 cancer cases were taken into account, out of which more than 14500 patients were aged between 55 and 64. If you look at the statistics, you will notice that cancer incidence among patients over 50 years is much more common and heightened than in any age group below 50. You can also catch the hike in the number of cancer cases by looking at the total number of issues that the VA had in 2007 vs. 2010 recorded. While the number was close to 40,000 in 2007, it jumped considerably to approximately 50,000 cases in 2010.
This could also mean that more and more veterans realize that they can qualify for VA cancer care benefits for veterans. In addition, you also have to look at these statistics while fully understanding that the population of veterans that fought World War II, the Gulf War, and the Vietnam War is reaching their later years, hence the increased cancer cases among them. The trend of increased cancer cases in the aging veteran population was made clearer further in the later 2010 study of cancer incidence rates among various age groups, sexes, and races. The data compiled in this study showed the highest number of cases of cancer took place in the 55-64 age group again, with a total number of cancer cases amounting to a little above 18,700.
When you look at the number of cancer cases in the US Military’s veterans population based on their sex, you see a different pattern regarding frequently diagnosed cancers. However, the difference is not that big despite the sex difference. As you continue to read, remember that recent studies consider service members who do not assign the male or female sex to their genders/sexes. In recent studies, you can see the number of such cases. Looking at the male population, prostate cancer is the top of the most frequently diagnosed cancer. Out of all the male veterans examined in the study, 30% were diagnosed with bladder cancer. On the other hand, breast cancer remains the most common cancer in the female veteran population, with 30% of veterans diagnosed with this condition.
Out of the total 49,857 cancer patients that were made a part of this study, prostate cancers were found to be diagnosed in 13,438 male veterans. The diagnosis may include the different types of prostate cancers that exist. Looking at the female veterans, breast cancer was the commonly diagnosed cancer, with 402 females getting a diagnosis of the condition. Lung cancer or bronchus is next on the list. This type of cancer in military veterans can be associated not only with their smoking habits but their living conditions that they had to experience while they were at different wars e.g. burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Nearly 18% of all veterans who were studied had lung cancer, which is quite alarming as the percentage of the general population of the US is 13% of all cancers.
Another important notion you have to make here is that lung cancer is common among male and female veterans. After breast cancer is the second most common cancer in female military service members, with 15% of veterans being diagnosed with this condition. What you can’t completely ignore here is that despite 152 VA medical facilities, they can’t cater to all the veterans who apply for VA healthcare benefits. Many of them are denied care because they can’t form a link between their condition and their service, or they have been discharged on an other than honorable basis. There’s more to come on this later.
Many veterans might assume they wouldn’t get cancer treatments due to denial of service based on their eligibility problems and never get to any VA medical center. Some other questions can be asked about VA’s cancer registry system, but the statistics provided in various reports are still reliable to a great degree due to the process, sample size, and researchers involved.
Colorectal cancer is also present commonly among males and females of the military. They both make up 8% and 7% of total cancer cases in their respective sexes. While 4% of males are diagnosed with cancer of the kidneys, approximately 6% of female vets have uterine corpus. Melanoma cases are identical among men and women veterans in terms of the percentage of cases. Lastly, the male population suffers more from liver cancer at 3%, whereas female vets have a higher rate of thyroid cancer at 4%.
You can divide VA patient population in various races to know some other patterns. VA health care system caters to all races and ethnicities with the same care level and healthcare benefits eligibility. The expected cancer frequencies might seem higher in the white population, but that’s due to the fact that there is a higher population of whites in the US. However, when you read these VA cancer cases, you must also consider the percentage of cases to understand the patterns fully. For example, when you look at the VA central cancer registry data, you realize that the number of patients with stomach cancer or digestive system cancer is quite high in white patients. However, when you look at the percentage, it is clear that the black veterans are more prone to cancers of the digestive system or stomach. So, for clarity, the percentage of white veterans with cancer of the digestive system is 17.81%, whereas the percentage for the same condition in black veterans is 19.27%. The percentages of small intestine cancer, colorectal cancers, and anal cancers are higher in the black veterans population.
Shockingly, other minorities show an even higher risk of cancer of the digestive system. The digestive system cancer among other minorities is as high as 23.5%, which is much higher than the percentage of the same condition in black and white patients. The same is true for cancer in the esophagus region, which has a percentage of 2.46% in other minorities, compared to 2.18% and 1.48% in white and black veterans respectively. Live cancer and bile duct cancer are also more common in other minorities. However, the white veterans population is at a much higher risk of respiratory cancers with a percentage of 18.51% of white patients having lung cancer or bronchus. Melanoma has a very high rate of occurrence in white veterans at 4.64% whereas other minorities are more exposed to breast cancer risk.
Prostate cancer, which is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the US military veterans, is extremely common in black patients with the percentage being as high as 40.86% compared to 26.21% in white veterans. Leukemia is also more common in the white population out of all the cancer cases occurring in black veterans and other minority groups. Colorectal cancers seem to be occurring more in the minority cancer population. In the studied cancer population, no other race had any lip cancers but whites. The same applies to the cancer of the nasal cavity.
Whether it’s colorectal and prostate cancer, liver cancer, blood cancer, brain cancer, or some other type of cancer, at which stage most Veterans Affairs patients are diagnosed is very important. It is important to mention here that diagnosing the condition at an early stage improves the chances of recovery in Veterans Affairs patients or any other cancer patients in the world. Let’s talk about some specific cancer diagnoses and at which stage of cancer most of the patients are in VA’s cancer registry system.
Out of all the colorectal cancer cases diagnosed by VA, more than 31% are diagnosed at stage 1. VA medical centers are always active in spreading the word about veterans being able to apply for VA health benefits so more and more potential patients can register themselves and get proper cancer screening at an early stage of cancer to increase their chances of survival. In VA health care system, only 19.11% of colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed at the 4th stage. The percentage of patients diagnosed with colon and rectum cancer at stage 1 is higher than any other stage.
Lung cancer or bronchus doesn’t show the best picture for VA cancer patients as only 20.9% of cases are diagnosed at stage 1. What’s alarming here is that most veterans who have lung cancer have already reached stage 4 of their condition by the time they reach a clinic for help. In other words, they are already at a stage where it is difficult to help them to make their lives normal again. It can be said that one of the reasons the treatments are not so effective against lung cancer for such veteran patients is that they have reached an old age at the time of diagnosis. To be precise, 37.99% of the veterans diagnosed with lung cancer are at stage 4.
You can notice some good signs in terms of timely reported cases when it comes to prostate cancer. Prostate cancer can be very deadly for men as this particular cancer type remains commonly present in the US males. According to the reports, out of all the prostate cancer patients treated at Veterans Affairs clinics and medical centers nearly 23% are diagnosed with the condition at stage 1. That’s a good sign because it is still very much in control and therapies and other treatments can get some good response from the patient’s body. Nearly 58% of the veterans diagnosed with prostate cancer are at stage 2 when they start receiving the medical help they need and deserve.
If you look at these statistics, there is one thing for you to note. The Veterans Affairs is doing its best to catch most of the cancers in their early stages and has been quite successful. Other than lung cancer, other cancers are diagnosed at a great percentage at their first stage. If you total all the percentages of these three cancers combined, you will see that 25% of all the cancer cases within these three categories are caught at stage one. This means these veterans start getting medical treatment when it is most helpful for them. The credit goes to the Department of Veterans Affairs for not only having the right technology but also working year-round to innovate more technologies that help it capture cancer cases at early stages.
Now, if you look at the combined percentages of these three types of cancers and calculate the percentage of cancer cases diagnosed at stage 4, you get a little over 21%. If the Department of Veterans Affairs can capture more cancers at stage 1 than it catches at stage 4, this should surely give you proof that it is really doing something right. Don’t forget that Veterans Affairs works with many other organizations and institutes to expedite its efforts to improve the technologies that help diagnose and treat cancer. From statistics, you can clearly see that Veterans Affairs should now focus more on improving the technologies to diagnose lung cancer and making veterans aware of the signs and early symptoms of the condition. At the same time, the teams working on the early diagnosis of cancer should also be given credit for their success at capturing colorectal cancer at its first stage since it remains the most common type of cancer in veterans.
When you look at VA patients treated for cancer data, you don’t see any dense areas in a particular region. In other words, it can’t be said at the moment that a particular region experiences a particular type of cancer more than another region. However, you can be sure that most VA patients come from the Southern parts of the country because this is the most heavily populated region of the country with Florida and Texas being a part of it. Keep in mind that California, Texas and Florida are ranked 2nd and 3rd on the list of the most populated states in the country. As a result, a great number of veterans come from these regions. Also, that’s the reason 42% of the veterans receiving cancer treatments are from the South. The other region with the highest number of cancer patients in the West. Yet again, you can see why this region ranks 2nd. That’s because you have California in this region, the most populated state in the country that sends a great number of men and women to the military every year.
Looking at the cancer diagnosis in the Veterans Affairs Report published in 2017, it is clear which types are the most common among US veterans. The cancer diagnosis varied slightly in some cases, whereas the disparity was very prominent in other cases. According to the data provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Prostate cancer, lung cancer or bronchus, colorectal cancer, kidney cancer, and skin cancer or Melanoma are ranked from 1st to 5th in terms of their frequency in veterans.
Understanding this particular type of cancer can be very difficult since it acts mysteriously. When it becomes evident that prostate cancer in a person is growing fast, it is extremely dangerous and can even be detrimental to the person. On the other hand, it grows so slowly in many men that they won’t even notice it until their last breath. In other words, many male veterans will die of various other health conditions than prostate cancer, even if they have it. Just a few years ago, the data showed that VA male cancer diagnoses weren’t much different from the trends evident in the general population of the US. However, recent statistics have started to paint a completely different picture.
New reports show that the incidence rates of prostate cancer among male veterans are much higher than they are in the male patients in the general public. The old reports revealed that one man out of every eight was getting diagnosed with prostate cancer, which was quite close to the statistics from the country’s general population. What has been revealed recently is completely different and potentially concerning for those who have provided services in the US Army in any capacity. With some research and help from a specialist, it is not difficult for a veteran to prove service connection to their condition and get VA health benefits. The new research shows that one veteran out of every 5 has prostate cancer and that’s quite high compared to one in 8, as studied previously.
One of the reasons of prostate cancer diagnoses becoming more common in recent times is the aging of the veteran population. Prostate cancer usually grows with time and has a higher chances of becoming active in the later years of life, which is evident from the fresh data from Veterans Affairs.
Suppose you are a veteran, especially one of the marine corps veterans. In that case, you should be proactive in getting tested for this type of cancer as studies show that Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam War increases the risk of prostate cancer in veterans. Not only that but it also results in patients with more aggravated form of cancer. Marine corps veterans were actively involved in the operations performed in Vietnam, putting them at a higher risk of being diagnosed with this type of cancer. In addition to that, if you are one of the marine corps veterans from the Korean war, you should also not wait too long before getting in touch with a doctor for screening.
US citizens are already battling this type of cancer because the rate of lung cancer or bronchus is quite high in the population. As per many research studies conducted in the past few years, lung cancer has remained the top most occurring cancers in the US or the top 3 cancer types. This means the population is already struggling with this fatal condition. What makes matters worse is that the risk of veterans getting lung cancer is even higher. According to Lung Cancer Center, the veterans of the US Army have a 25% higher risk of getting this condition compared to the general population. In other words, cancer care for veterans with this condition should be given the highest priority.
Certain glimpses of the state of affairs when it comes to cancer of the lungs aren’t very satisfying. As stated earlier, nearly 38% of the veterans affairs patients treated with bronchus or cancer of the lungs are diagnosed at the 4th stage of the condition. This means they are already past the stage when things can be made better for them. These statistical analyses are of concern since other common forms of cancer are caught in their early stages. VA is already working on various new ways to diagnose cancer, and cancer diagnoses for this particular condition are becoming of more value with time.
Regarding colorectal cancer, male veterans are at a higher risk of getting this condition than their female counterparts. Keep in mind that it is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers among present and retired patients in the US Army. Once again, a pattern that is noticed in these patients is their age. This type of cancer is more common in veterans past the age of 60. A study conducted in 2016 focused specifically on colorectal cancer cases in the US veterans, and it was found that 65.5 years was the median age in a sample of more than 12,500 vets that were being studied. As stated earlier, male veterans are much more likely to get this type of condition than their female counterparts, and it is clear from the statistics that show 97% of the individuals from the army that were studied for colorectal cancer were men.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is quite serious about cancer care for patients who suffer from this specific condition, with the month of March dedicated to the patients of this condition. Some of the statistics on VA’s website are alarming and should be taken seriously. The website clearly states that fewer service members died in the entire Vietnam War than died yearly from colorectal and prostate cancer. The good news is that it falls in the category of preventable cancers. Per VA, six of every ten veteran patients who die from this condition could be saved with timely intervention. Every year, a diagnosis of 4000 patients with this particular cancer type is performed by VA. The best form of cancer care for patients with cancer of this type is to get proper and regular screening, so any illness incident is identified on time.
While it usually does not appear on the list of the most commonly occurring cancers in US veterans, you can’t ignore that it is at number 4, right after the top 3 types of cancer. In other words, a large population of US veterans has this condition, and more awareness has to be spread so they can get checked for it before it’s too late. The role of Agent Orange cannot be ignored when it comes to the cancer of the kidneys. Whatever goes inside the body is flushed out through urination or defecation. Any chemicals that become a part of the blood are cleansed by the kidneys, making them come in contact with the dangerous herbicides and other chemicals that were used in wars.
According to a recent study, the percentage of patients with this type of cancer is 4%. One of the major concerns regarding kidney cancer is that it is quite prevalent in all races that are providing their services to the US army. When you look at kidney and renal pelvis cancer incidences, more than 5% of the veterans are from a minority race. White veterans are ranked second, with 3.81% of the cases occurring in them. Black veterans also have a high rate of kidney cancer, as 3.75% of them were diagnosed with this condition in the study.
If you feel tired all the time, don’t feel like eating, or notice blood in your urine, it is highly recommended that you get screened for kidney cancer as soon as possible. It becomes unavoidably essential for you if you are a US veteran who served in the wars fought in Vietnam.
Knowing that you can get different ratings from VA based on your condition is important. Even if the tumor formed due to the cancer of the kidneys is benign, you will still be given the cancer care you deserve. A malignant tumor, which is affecting the kidneys and other organs of the body in the vicinity, will attract a rating of 100 from VA, which means you will qualify for all VA healthcare benefits. It is also important that you will be going for dialysis if your condition gets a rating of 100. You will get different ratings based on various other factors. You must contact a doctor and then apply for VA benefits to know your exact condition and the type of benefits you will qualify for.
The 5th most commonly occurring cancer in veterans is Melanoma or skin cancer. Skin cancers are the most concerning point for veterans from the white race as the study shows that they are at a higher risk of attracting this form of cancer than other races. The difference is huge when it comes to Melanoma. Not a lot of other cancers on the list show such a huge difference in the percentage of occurrence in the veterans. Veterans from the black race are rare to get this disease and only 0.23% of them suffer from it. In a similar manner, only 1.75% of the veterans from other races get this cancer. However, when it comes to the white population in the US army, more than 4.6% of the cases were among them.
Again, it’s a point of concern for the veterans who have a white skin. The veterans who were sent to locations where the sun was usually shining and the warm season was mostly prevalent throughout the year might have a higher risk of having this condition. You can say that Afghanistan and Iraq are among the regions that get a lot of sunshine and only more research will tell how many new cases of this condition will emerge in the coming times as the cases of these two wars are still relatively fresh. Not to mention, older white men are more likely to get this disease and that’s the population that represents a large portion of the veterans in the US Army.
A recent study has also made it evident that advanced forms of this condition are very likely to exist in the military veterans. While it might not seem like a dangerous disease, but for those who are not aware of it, this is a deadly disease and Melanoma remains one of the most dangerous cancers of the skin.
You could associate the occurrence of cancer in VA patients with a variety of factors. The type of cancer that occurs in military veteran depends on where they served, in what conditions, and what they were susceptible to based on their race, among others. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that contribute to the increased risk of cancer in the US veterans.
UV exposure might not seem like a factor that many people think about but it remains one of the main causes of concern for military veterans. When deployed in locations where the sun shines for many hours every day and for most of the year, they have an increased risk of getting skin cancers. For example, many of the regions in Iraq and Afghanistan were sandy and the marine corps veterans and other active duty personnel were wandering in the desert sand for long hours during the day time. The thing that made matters worse for them was the sand reflecting the UV rays, making the effect of the sun rays twice more dangerous.
In addition to working in such conditions, these soldiers are not recommended or encouraged to wear sunscreen or carry any other items that could protect them from the dangerous UV rays.
It is important to use the term smoke here rather than specifying a particular incidence. The smoke that’s released by various weapons is not as dangerous as the smoke that is created by the burning of items. It is an important part of military operations i.e. to burn ammunition, human waste, and other items when leaving a location for a new destination. To dispose of items that were not needed by the military, they would make big pits in the ground and burn them. This would release toxic gases that the veterans would breathe in for long hours as they continued to burn more items. Recent studies have shown that burn pit smoke contains a variety of carcinogenic substances.
Exposure to Agent Orange is always mentioned separately for veterans because this was the chemical that caused the most damage to the young soldiers of the US Army who did not know at the time of active duty what they were breathing in and putting in their bodies. They would breathe in the air that was full of freshly poured Agent Orange. In addition to that, they would use buckets and drums that originally contained Agent Orange in them for collecting water for drinking and bathing. It is important to know here that a lot of conditions that are directly associated with Agent Orange exposure are considered on a presumption basis by VA. This means, if you served in an area where Agent Orange was used and now you have a certain type of cancer, you will be entered to receive all VA health benefits after filling out the required forms.
Non-hodgkins lymphoma, hodgkins lymphoma, soft tissue sarcomas, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia are among the most common conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange. If you have been diagnosed with one of these conditions and served in the US Army in Vietnam War, you should contact VA as soon as possible to qualify for all the benefits you deserve.
Some other conditions are associated with Agent Orange on a suggestive evidence basis. These diseases include but are not limited to bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, and respiratory cancers. Brain cancer, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, liver, and pancreatic cancers can also be associated with the exposure, but the service connection is not that clear and easy to make. However, you should visit a VA medical center near you as soon as possible if you are a veteran or one of the military families and are experiencing signs of any of these conditions.
Veterans who served in Japan during World War II, they are at a greater risk of getting cancer due to radiation. The worst part of this type of exposure is that radiation can cause just about any kind of cancer in a human body. Multiple cancer diagnoses are prevalent for those who were actively serving when the nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place. Some common cancers these veterans are likely to have included but are not limited to stomach, liver, ovarian, salivary gland, colon, brain, bone, bile duct, pancreatic, leukemia, lung cancer, multiple myeloma, etc.
We need to prove to our veterans that they are not alone. Firstly, they should be provided with all the resources they can use to get their condition diagnosed and treated through a healthcare service provided by those who care the most. Yes, in this particular Veterans Affairs health services research is extremely important, but their existing clinics and medical centers in the country are even more crucial. Hundreds of thousands of veterans are getting treatment in these hospitals and clinics.
In addition to VA, we are responsible for letting our veterans know they are not alone. That’s what Michael Ehline is doing with his recent efforts that are done not without a purpose but with an aim, ambition, and passion that is only present in someone who is closely, directly, and dearly related to a veteran.
Michael Ehline loves veterans not for some gains, but this is something in his blood. He is the son of Paul Ehline, the marine with an undying attitude and passion. Sergeant Paul Ehline served in the US military at the crucial locations of Vietnam. While he was not initially selected for the job, he decided to join the marine corps and was transferred to Vietnam for active duty in the worst conditions.
One of the ways Michael Ehline has shown his love to his father is through the Sergeant Paul Ehline Annual Ride. The ride was conducted in memory of Paul Ehline, the veteran from the marine corps who never settled for anything less in life. After battling with enemies throughout his life, he fought against cancer in his later years but was never seen lost or defeated. He had the proper attitude of a marine.
To bid him farewell, Michael Ehline gathered 50 great individuals to complete a motorcycle ride for his father. This ride would continue for as long as the love for the Marine Corps is alive. More information about the Sergeant Paul Ehline Annual Ride is available here.
At the ride, there were the heroes from the US Marine Corps to be a part of the memory of Paul Ehline. With their vigor and passion, these bike riders led the ride from the front to show the love that’s ever-present in the US marines. They say the love for marines among themselves is so intense that when one of the marines passes away, they take it personally. Perhaps, that was why the Leathernecks MC were at the forefront of this ride to show their eternal love for their brother, Sergeant Paul.
When you ride like heroes, make sure you ride safely because a motorcycle accident can completely overturn everything in your life for the worse. Of course, Michael Ehline is always there to represent you as your trusted and passionate motorcycle accident and personal injury lawyer. If you are a vet and need help with your injury cases, you can always contact using the details on the website, and you will be directed to the resources that can help you with your case.
If you are interested in helping through funds, you can always contribute as you like because the Paul Ehline Annual Ride is about helping military veterans. Be a part of the ride to raise money for those who are the nation’s heroes and need it the most.
Donations submitted through donation forms on PaulEhlineRide.Org are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by U.S. and state laws. These will be in U.S. Federal Reserve Notes. Paul Ehline Memorial Ride™ is a U.S. nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable Section 501(c)(19) organization that benefits US Armed Forces veterans under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. (Tax identification number 85-4040563.)