The herbicide Agent Orange, which is known for its use in the Vietnam War, is widely studied and discussed. One of the biggest problems with Agent Orange is the myriad of disabilities that can arise due to exposure to the herbicide. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in service are likely dealing with some form of illness or disability because of the chemical exfoliant. One of the common illnesses associated with Agent Orange exposure is soft tissue sarcoma.
What is Soft Tissue Sarcoma?
Soft tissue sarcoma is a type of cancer that is somewhat common among Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. Mayo clinic defines it as a rare form of cancer that starts in your soft tissue, which are the tissues that connect, support, and surround other body structures. An example of soft tissue is the tissue around your knee joint. There are currently more than 50 different types of soft tissue sarcoma.
It is common for soft tissue sarcoma to occur in the upper and lower extremities (arms and legs), along with the abdomen. Typically, surgery is the most common way to treat the cancer. However, other cancer treatment options such as chemotherapy may be used depending on the size, location, and type of soft tissue cancer.
Soft Tissue Sarcoma Symptoms
Mayo clinic lists two specific symptoms associated with soft tissue sarcoma:
- A sizable lump or swelling
- Pain from a tumor pushing up against nerves or muscles
Although these symptoms may appear, they will likely not be noticeable in the early stages of the cancer. As the tumor gets larger, the symptoms may become more prominent.
What Causes Soft Tissue Sarcoma in Veterans?
Soft tissue sarcoma, like other forms of cancer, occurs when a cell mutates to become cancerous (also known as an oncogene). These cancerous cells do not contain the correct DNA to stop reproduction from occurring in mutated cells.
Therefore, the cancerous cells reproduce quickly and crowd out the healthy cells. In the form of soft tissue sarcoma, the cancerous cells will from a tumor that can invade other body structures.
Some common risk factors include genetics, radiation, and chemical exposure.
For Veterans, the most common risk factor is chemical exposure due to Agent Orange. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in service and were later diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma are entitled to disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Service Connection for Soft Tissue Sarcoma Due to Agent Orange Exposure
For a Veteran to receive service connection for their disability, they usually need to prove three things:
- They have a current medical diagnosis
- An in-service event that caused the injury/disability
- A nexus connecting the event to the current medical diagnosis
However, Veterans who were diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma due to Agent Orange exposure do not need to provide the same information. This is because soft tissue sarcoma is a presumptive condition for Agent Orange exposure.
Presumptive Service Connection
When the VA realizes that something in the military was likely to lead to certain disabilities, they make it a presumptive condition. Basically, the VA is admitting that if you have soft tissue sarcoma and you were exposed to Agent Orange, they will presume it is connected.
For a Veteran to receive service connection for soft tissue sarcoma, they need to prove they were exposed to Agent Orange in service and have a current medical diagnosis. If a Veteran can prove this, they should be granted disability compensation for the cancer.
For Veterans obtaining presumptive service connection, the type of soft tissue sarcoma must not be:
- Kaposi’s sarcoma
Veterans Disability Lawyers
If you are a Veteran and you were denied disability benefits for Agent Orange exposure, we can help. Berry Law was founded by Vietnam Veteran John Stevens Berry, Sr., and we got into Veterans disability law by helping fellow Vietnam Vets get the disability benefits they were entitled to. Now, we are one of the nation’s largest Veterans law firms in the country, and it is our mission to provide the legal firepower Veterans need to get disability benefits they deserve.
Berry Law has helped thousands of Veterans in their fight for disability benefits. If you need assistance appealing your VA claim, contact a team of Veterans you can trust. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation.