Posted byBerry LawonOctober 14, 2022inDisability Ratings
Every year, many Veterans need benefits and compensation for their disabilities and illnesses caused by their time in the service. However, a Veteran will have certain factors to prove in their claim if they want benefits.
How does a Veteran exactly do this, though?
There are many facets to making a claim through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs that Veterans need to know before they begin the process.
One specific illness that many Veterans suffer from is prostate cancer. This article will detail how to link prostate cancer to one’s time in the service.
- You’ll learn what prostate cancer is
- You’ll know the symptoms of prostate cancer
- You’ll learn whether or not Agent Orange is related to prostate cancer
- You’ll learn about the treatment that is available for prostate cancer
- You’ll understand how to make a claim through the VA for prostate cancer
What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that occurs in the prostate, a gland found only in males that makes some of the fluid found in semen.
This happens when the prostate gland grows out of control, and cancerous tumors develop.
The size of the prostate can vary depending on the age of the male. In some younger men, the prostate is smaller, while it is usually larger in older men.
Most prostate cancer is a form of adenocarcinomas, which is cancer that forms in gland cells. However, other types of cancers can occur in the prostate, such as:
- Neuroendocrine tumors
Sometimes, prostate cancer grows very quickly. However, most of the time, it grows slowly.
In some cases, men are entirely unaware that they have prostate cancer. Autopsies on men who died from other causes and had prostate cancer sometimes show that the cancer did not affect them.
Are There Pre-Cancerous Conditions of Prostate Cancer?
Though it is not known for sure, some medical professionals suggest that there might be pre-cancerous prostate cancer conditions.
The main two pre-cancerous conditions are Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) and Proliferative Inflammatory Atrophy (PIA).
PIN occurs when there is an abnormal change in how the prostate gland cells look.
Doctors will either classify it as low-grade PIN or high-grade PIN. Low-grade PIN is not thought of as a precursor to prostate cancer. On the other hand, high-grade PIN may be a precursor to prostate cancer. If a Veteran has high-grade PIN, they may want to keep a check on their prostate.
PIA is when the prostate gland cells look smaller than usual. PIA is not cancer itself, but some believe it can lead to high-grade PIN, sometimes linked with cancer.
What Are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
Because prostate cancer usually develops slowly over time, a Veteran may not notice any immediate symptoms.
Prostate cancer that has already developed, on the other hand, can have many symptoms, including:
- Difficulty urinating
- Blood in urine
- Blood in semen
- Bone pain
- Sudden loss of weight
- Erectile dysfunction
Since many Veterans may not notice immediate symptoms, it can be difficult to know when to see a doctor.
If a Veteran experiences any of the symptoms above persistently, they should immediately see a medical professional. This will ensure that they can diagnose the illness as soon as possible and hopefully find the best treatment for the cancer.
Suppose a Veteran has to go in because they are experiencing any pre-cancerous conditions. In that case, it may be best that they have regular checkups to tell whether or not prostate cancer is developing.
What Are the Treatments for Prostate Cancer?
Thankfully, there are many treatments for prostate cancer. A Veteran may find that one works better for them than some others since some will have specific side effects that can significantly impact their life.
However, a Veteran should follow the discretion of a medical professional when they seek treatment. They will be able to discern what the best treatment will be.
The type of treatment will largely depend on how developed the prostate cancer already is. If it is mature and has grown to be large, certain forms of treatment may be inadequate to get rid of the cancer.
The primary forms of treatment for prostate cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, focal therapies, and hormonal therapy.
For certain forms of treatment, such as radiation therapy, there are side effects that a Veteran should be aware of. A Veteran may experience erectile dysfunction, frequency in urination, problems in bowel function, and fatigue. However, most of these side effects will go away after treatment.
Agent Orange and Prostate Cancer
Even decades after the Vietnam War, many Veterans face the consequences of exposure to Agent Orange.
Studies show that Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are more likely to develop prostate cancer.
As a Veteran, if you were exposed to Agent Orange and now suffer from prostate cancer, you are entitled to benefits and compensation from the VA.
Many Veterans may not even have known that the contaminants and harmful chemicals of Agent Orange affected them slowly over time.
A Veteran should not overlook this at all. Exposure to Agent Orange can have some seriously harmful side effects, and Veterans deserve benefits from the VA because of it.
If you are a Veteran unsure of where to begin, it is advised that you consult an experienced attorney that is familiar with the VA.
At Berry Law, our experience advocating for Veterans allows us to be effective when representing you. We will direct you in your search for evidence and help you right up your claim.
A Veteran may overlook many details when making a claim since many are unfamiliar with the VA. Sadly, this can cost them their claim and benefits. Working with an experienced attorney is their best chance of securing substantial benefits, so a Veteran does not get a denial from the VA or a low disability rating.
Service Connection for Agent Orange
Making a claim for a disability or illness that Agent Orange caused is unique compared to other claims.
The main reason for this is the presumptive stance that the VA takes when a Veteran makes a claim that exposure to Agent Orange caused their illness or disability.
These presumptive rules can make it easier for Veterans to secure an in-service connection.
A Veteran will have to prove that they were exposed to Agent Orange or a harmful herbicide during their time in the service.
The VA will presume exposure to Veterans who:
- Served in Vietnam anytime between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975
- Served in the Korean demilitarized zone between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971
- Served in the airforce from 1969 through 1986
Sadly, not all illnesses and disabilities are presumed by the VA when it comes to exposure to Agent Orange.
Here are some that are presumed:
- Prostate cancer
- Chronic B-cell leukemia
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Lung cancer
- Bladder cancer
If a Veteran was exposed to Agent Orange yet their illness is not on the VA’s presumptive list, they still may be eligible for benefits.
In these cases, they will have to gather evidence that shows that their illness is least as likely as not related to their service and exposure to Agent Orange.
What if the VA Denies My Claim?
Every year, the VA makes multiple mistakes, whether by denying a claim or giving a low disability rating to a Veteran who deserves more benefits.
This can be frustrating for Veterans who need benefits to help with the cost of treatment.
The good news is that they can appeal any decision the VA makes. However, they will have to begin the process within one year of the VA’s initial decision, or else they will have to start a whole new claims process.
Because the appeal process can be longer and more complex than the initial claims process, it is highly advised that a Veteran works with an experienced attorney in the appeal process.
This will make sure that the Veteran has the strongest appeal that they can make. The attorney will help the Veteran gather the proper evidence to prove the VA’s judgment wrong.
Though prostate cancer can go unnoticed, it is always best to have a proper diagnosis and treatment if a Veteran is experiencing any symptoms.
A Veteran’s best method to secure benefits through the VA is by linking their prostate cancer to their exposure to Agent Orange. Because of the presumptive rules that surround the VA and Agent Orange, it can be easier to make a service connection for prostate cancer than other disabilities not related to Agent Orange.
For more information on VA law and the benefits you may be entitled to, visit our website.