Bladder Cancer and Veterans

Bladder Cancer and Veterans

July 07, 2021

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Bladder cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer among veterans. It occurs when the cells that line the bladder grow out of control. These abnormal cells eventually become tumors and other growths within the layers of the bladder walls.

As the cancer becomes more advanced and travels deeper into the bladder, it is harder to treat. The sooner that bladder cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome for patients. 

Symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  • Blood in urine
  • Painful urination
  • Urgent urination
  • Inability to urinate
  • Lower back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Smoking, a prior history of bladder cancer, use of certain chemotherapy drugs, chronic urinary tract infections, and genetic mutations are all common risk factors for bladder cancer. In addition, exposure to certain contaminants and substances like Agent Orange have also long been linked to bladder cancer.

Is Bladder Cancer a Presumptive Condition?

Bladder cancer is listed as one of the presumptive conditions for veterans exposed to Agent Orange and contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune. It was just recently added to the presumptive list for Agent Orange exposure along with Parkinsonism and hypothyroidism – check out our previous article expanding on those conditions.

Veterans who developed bladder cancer after being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam or the waters 12 nautical miles offshore of Vietnam and Cambodia during the Vietnam war; the Korean DMZ between September 1, 1967, and August 31, 1971; along the perimeter of certain bases in Thailand; served on C-123 aircraft with traces of Agent Orange; or were directly involved with transporting, testing, storing, or other uses of Agent Orange while on active duty service. 

Those who lived at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station New River for at least 30 days between August 1953 and December 1987 may be presumptively service-connected for bladder cancer. 

A presumptive service connection is established when a disability can be assumed to have been caused by a veteran’s time in the military. This lowers the burden of proof a veteran must provide to receive VA disability benefits for that condition.  

Bladder Cancer Treatment Through the VA

The VA uses cutting-edge technology to find and treat bladder cancer in its patients. Molecular testing allows providers to pinpoint the most effective treatment strategies for each patient’s condition and needs. This enables the VA to create a personalized course of therapies and medications to best fight a veteran’s bladder cancer.

The VA is expected to finalize a Clinical Pathways for Bladder Cancer program in the coming months of 2021. This will standardize the best practices for diagnosis, treatment, and care of bladder cancer at VA health facilities, improve patient outcomes and increase survival rates among veterans.

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