On March 1, VA announced its intention of adding nine rare respiratory cancers to the list of presumed service-connected disabilities in relation to exposure to toxic chemicals in the air, water, or soil for Veterans who served any amount of time in the Southwest Asia theater of operations.
Veterans, dependents and survivors who had claims previously denied for any of the below respiratory cancers would be encouraged to file a new or supplemental claim for benefits once the rule-making process is complete:
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the larynx;
- SCC of the trachea;
- Adenocarcinoma of the trachea;
- Salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea;
- Adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung;
- Large cell carcinoma of the lung;
- Salivary gland-type tumors of the lung;
- Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung and;
- Typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung.
Any Veteran who had one of these cancers manifest to a degree of 0% or more at any time during or after separation would be eligible for service-connection.
VHA’s Health Outcomes Military Exposures team began a focused review of scientific and medical evidence related to exposure to fine particulate matter and the subsequent development of rare respiratory cancers. Its research affirmed a biologic plausibility between airborne hazards and carcinogenesis of the respiratory tract.
Based on these findings, VA Secretary Denis McDonough is proposing a rule that will add presumptive service connection for these rare respiratory cancers for certain Veterans.
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, VA will conduct outreach to impacted Veterans and survivors to inform them about potential eligibility.