The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to propose adding certain rare respiratory cancers to the list of presumed service-connected disabilities in relation to military environmental exposure to particulate matter.
VA determined through a focused review of scientific and medical evidence there is biologic plausibility between airborne hazards, specifically particulate matter, and carcinogenics of the respiratory tract, and that the unique circumstances of these rare cancers warrant a presumption of service connection.
Based on these findings, VA’s Secretary is proposing a rule that will add presumptive service connection for several rare respiratory cancers for certain Veterans. The cancers under consideration include:
Squamous cell carcinoma (larynx).
Squamous cell carcinoma (trachea).
Salivary gland-type tumors (trachea).
Adeno-squamous carcinoma (lung).
Large cell carcinoma (lung).
Salivary gland-type tumors (lung).
Sarcomatoid carcinoma (lung).
Typical and atypical carcinoid (lung).
VA Secretary Denis McDonough said “This is the right decision. The rarity and severity of these illnesses, and the reality that these conditions present a situation where it may not be possible to develop additional
evidence prompted us to take this critical action”. He also said “We’ll continue to hold ourselves accountable to Veterans to provide more care, more benefits and more services to more Veterans than ever before.”
The VA intends to focus its rule on the rare respiratory cancers above in Veterans who served any amount of time in the Southwest Asia theater of operations and other locations. VA will invite and consider public comments as part of this process.
Once rule making is complete, the VA will conduct outreach to impacted veterans and survivors to inform them about their potential eligibility.
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