Agent Orange and Cholangiocarcinoma

Agent Orange and Cholangiocarcinoma

Agent Orange and Cholangiocarcinoma, is there a connection to Vietnam Veterans?

There definitely does seem to be a connection between Agent Orange and Cholangiocarcinoma to Vietnam Veterans. Cholangiocarcinoma or bile duct cancer is one of the rarest forms of cancer known to science.

For this reason, it is difficult to generalize about its causes and links to Vietnam veterans. So, disability claimants must nearly always establish their qualifications for benefits on a case-by-case basis.

Despite what the Veterans Administration implies, there is definitely a link between Cholangiocarcinoma and several of the ingredients in Agent Orange. Over about a 10-year period, the U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of this defoliant over the jungles of Vietnam. As it turns out, the chemical compound destroyed more than just plants. It also ruined millions of human lives, both in Vietnam and among U.S. service members. Nearly 50 years later, attorneys are still sorting out the fallout from Agent Orange use.

Some Bile Duct Cancer Facts

Cholangiocarcinoma is an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer that is also extremely hard to treat.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, epithelial cells (cells that line the organs and blood vessels) mutate and transfer bile from the liver, where it is harmless, to the small intestines, where it is poisonous. The initial symptoms, such as weight loss, itching, fever, and abdominal pain, are so generic that many doctors do not order Cholangiocarcinoma liver tests. This specific blood test is about the only way to diagnose bile duct cancer. So, by the time patients receive a proper diagnosis, the disease may already be in an advanced stage.

Cholangiocarcinoma is almost entirely unresponsive to even the most advanced chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments. These approaches sometimes make the disease more manageable, but they offer nothing in terms of a cure. For that aspect, surgery is the only known treatment option. If doctors do not remove the entire tumor, cancer will come back.

The good news is that the cancer survival rate has increased significantly since the 1990s. So, if the disease is caught early enough, there are options available. However, these treatments are expensive, and many veterans simply can not afford them out of pocket. Fortunately, there is help available.

The Cholangiocarcinoma/Vietnam Veteran Connection

Normally, only genetics and toxic substances cause cells to mutate and form malignant tumors. That is partially true with regard to bile duct cancer. Agent Orange contained both dioxin (a deadly by-product of the chemical production process) and liver flukes (tiny parasites). Both these substances are linked to bile duct cancer. Many times, cholangiocarcinoma has a 40-year incubation period. So, at first blush, it is hard to establish a service connection.

The connection is difficult to establish for another reason. Raw or undercooked fish from Vietnam, Thailand, and other parts of Southeast Asia can contain Liver flukes. If a veteran ate fish laced with liver flukes, the service connection is harder to make.

Nevertheless, the VA has approved Agent Orange/Cholangiocarcinoma claims. Since there is no presumption, claimants must produce sufficient medical evidence to establish a right to benefits. Compensation in these cases usually includes money for both lost wages and medical treatment. In other words, families get the financial help they need to sustain life and fight cholangiocarcinoma.

Count on Dedicated Attorneys

Even if the illness is not on the presumptive list, substantial compensation may be available for Agent Orange exposure victims who develop cancer. For a free consultation with an experienced veterans disability lawyer, contact Cameron Firm, PC at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box to your right. We are here to successfully represent veterans nationwide.

This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.