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Agent Orange - Tonsil Cancer - Vietnam Veterans

dejohnso
Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2009

My husband was recently diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the Tonsil, base of the tongue and spread to lymph nodes - in checking information about the possibility of Agent Orange being a cause of this as he does not fit the common risk factors of drinking and smoking I have found that if you contact Mary Burr Paxton with the information about the veteran and their tonsil cancer diagnosis she will include that information and hopefully more can be done about adding this to the presumptive list for Agent Orange. So far she has about two dozen veterans and their information on her list - I would strongly suggest any Vietnam veterans with tonsil cancer send her information so the study can hopefully be adjusted to add tonsil cancer to the presumptive list for Agent Orange. Her contact info is listed below:

Mary Burr Paxton, PhD, DABT
Senior Program Officer
Population Health and Public Health Practice
Institute of Medicine
Keck 871, 500 Fifth St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 334-1731
fax: (202) 334-2939
MPaxton@nas.edu

lolojldunn
Posts: 37
Joined: Apr 2008

Hi Dejohnso,
Thanks a lot for the information. I will make it a point to contact Ms. Paxton as soon as possible.
Wishing your husband the very best in his treatment. It's a long arduous journey. You'll find a great deal of support and knowledge on this website. Your husband made it through his tour of duty in Vietnam. He'll make it through his treatment. With the support of a first class Care Giver like you, I'm sure that he'll do exceptionally well.
May God grant you the courage and strength to help you get your husband through this battle.

Take care,
Jim

Artray
Posts: 24
Joined: May 2009

Thanks so much!
My husband was diagnosed (same as your's) with SCC last Sept and did the radiation and chemo and then it spread to the lymph nodes so last Monday he had a Radical Neck Dissection...never ever smoked or drank but was a convoy driver in Vietnam so he was exposed and also has bilateral neuropathy (which the VA won't acknowledge is related). It would be great to get a little acknowledgement from the VA that these problems are somewhat or totally related...
Will follow up immediately with Ms. Paxton

Jeani

Lukedog
Posts: 6
Joined: Jul 2009

I have tongue cancer with 2 lymph nodes involved and I am scheduled for tongue surgery etc. on July 20th. I smoked when I was young but quit approx. 30 years ago and I don't drink.
I was in Viet Nam for only a short period of time but not sure I was ever exposed to Agent Orange. But I just want to wish all Viet Nam Veterans with cancer the best of luck in the future. Hope we all survive for many more years.
And thanks to all those that give support to cancer patients and veterans.
Chuck

pipemandoo
Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2009

Good luck on your upcoming surgery on the 20th!
I was in Vietnam for 13 months and believe I received a pretty good dose of Agent Orange. I have had cancer of the throat twice. The first time I had the radiation and chemo which knocked it out for 7 months. The next time required a total laryngectomy and removal of thyroid and some other glands (lymph nodes)that were close by. I now have prostate cancer with the numbers climbing pretty fast. I also picked up diabetes out of the deal. There seems to be more and more things associated with AO and you just never know from one day to the next what is going to pop up next.
Ken

MarineE5
Posts: 748
Joined: Dec 2005

Ken,

Have you filed a claim with the VA yet ? Prostate Cancer and Diabetes are on the presumtive list for Agent Orange, so your claim should not be denied. Of course the Tongue cancer is not on the list, so that will be shot down. Main thing is to get the claim in for the Prostate and Diabetes.

For anyone else reading this reply, if you spent one day in Vietnam, it is presumed that you had Agent Orange exposure. We drank the water there.

My Best to You and Everyone Here

dejohnso
Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2009

From what I have heard the length of time in Vietnam does not count - if he was in Vietnam he was exposed to Agent Orange.

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8062
Joined: Sep 2009

I've seen several references to this in researching information.

I too was diagnosed with SCC tonsil cancer last January. I also am a Viet Nam Era Veteran, didn't go to Viet Nam, but was in during that time frame, also Marine E5. I don't beleive I was ever exposed to Agent Orange, but thought I'd share my experience.

I also am not a tobacco user. Mine has been diagnosed and biospy came back as HPV related. I also had a secondary lymph node affected. I had the nine week regime of chemo (Taxotere, Cisplaten and 5FU), followed with seven weeks of Carboplaten and 35 daily radiation exposures, no neck dissection, tonsild were removed. Treatment ended in mid June 2009, all clear. The lymph node dissolved and PET and CT's have been clean to date....hoping forever.

Best of Luck and God Bless.
John

srchief
Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2010

All veitnam Vets
For all who have tonsil cancer and Vietnam Service, you need to check out this VA.gov WEB SITE. It has all claims that went to the appeals board for claims turned down.

http://www.index.va.gov/search/va/va_search.jsp?SQ=vt_vetapp09_ext&QT=tonsil+cancer+appeals

This is one claim that was for Tonsil cancer and was granted at appeal court.

www4.va.gov/vetapp09/files5/0940472.txt

Sr CHIEF

thegirlfriend's picture
thegirlfriend
Posts: 147
Joined: Sep 2009

my boyfriend was a Navy medic, essentially a Marine, and was in combat in VietNam
for a year. I dont remember if i ever asked him if he was exposed to Agent Orange.
He wasnt diagnosed with tonsil cancer, but SCC, with the tumor that was found on his jaw.
Very interesting to say the least though.

K

MarineE5
Posts: 748
Joined: Dec 2005

Thegirlfiend,

First, please mention to your boyfriend that a old Marine said " Welcome Home ". He will understand. Your boyfriend was a Navy Corpsman and the Marines hold each Corpsman in very high regard. The Army has Medics and the Army holds their Medics in high reguard as well.

With that said, you won't have to ask him if he was ever exposed to Agent Orange, the Government has already agreed that all Troops on the ground were exposed to Agent Orange even if they were in Vietnam for only one day.

Has he filed a claim for cancer to the VA. I would suggest that if he hasn't, that he should and to also contact a Veteran's organization to help with the filing process. Such as the Vietnam Veterans of America Service Officers, or the DAV ( Disabled American Veterans ) etc.

My Best to Both of You and Everyone Here

jacqlyn46
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2010

My husband chewed...and is a Viet-Nam Vet also. He developed a tumor on his left jaw and had to have radical surgery. The doctors verbally say that both the chew and the Agent Orange could be "contributors" to the Squamous Cell Carcinoma, but they won't put it on paper. His VA Claim has been denied because the soft tissue involvement is not on the list of the VA's soft tissue cancers.
My hubby had to have a second surgery the latter part of last year (2011) because the bone graft wasn't mending to his mandibal. Now, he is swelling up again like he did last year, looking like a chipmunk hording nuts, so they are going to try ONCE AGAIN to figure out what's wrong.
I am figting for all of the Viet-Nam era Vets to get this NASTY NASTY cancer on the record with them for an Agent Orange Cancer. My prayers are with you and your boyfriend. He needs you soooooo much right now. The road is not easy. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you want or need to talk.
Hugs.
Jacki

MarineE5
Posts: 748
Joined: Dec 2005

Sr. Chief,

Thank you for posting the VA.gov site. I often recommend to those that have a claim, to read the rulings and learn from what was written. Hopefully, if enough Vets file claims for oral cancer, the VA will eventually include the oral cancer on the list. I don't understand how they can ignore the common sense in this.

Thank You for Your Service to Our Country

Jim B
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2012

I have recently, January 2012, been diagnosed with SCC on the back of my tongue and in the lymph nodes of my neck. One month ago I had a cancerous growth, also SCC surgically removed from the inside bowl of my right ear. I start Chemo and Radiation Therapy at the Portland VA Medical Center in Oregon. The Chemo will be at the VA hospital and Radiation treatments will be done at the Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU)

My barracks backed to the jungle, so helicopters equipped with the Agent Orange, routinely sprayed a 5 mile perimeter around our barracks to keep the foliage down and help eliminate attacks and hiding places for the VC.

I read your article about the study that has been done for the Agent Orange effects on Veterans during the Vietnam war. I served in Vietnam for 13 months in 1966-67.
You suggested e-mailing Mary Burr Paxton who is the Director of the Agent Orange Study that was mentioned in your article. I hope that she can help us Veterans and their families that have been stricken with this cancer to get it included as a presumptive disease associated with Agent Orange so we can rightfully claim benefits. It seems odd to me that diabetes can be on the presumptive list but not Head and Neck cancer which can directly be related to toxins. I have never smoked or chew tobacco, so my cancer cannot be related to abuse on my part.

Thank you first for being the primary caregiver to your husband. I know first hand that this is a very difficult job and I so much appreciate the time, effort and grief this cancer has caused to Veterans and their families.

Also thank you for giving us the information to contact Mary Burr Paxton. I e-mailed her yesterday. Did Mary give you any further information that might help you with your husband's claim for benefits?

Please let me know how your husband is progressing and know he will be included in our prayers.

God Bless!
Jim

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8062
Joined: Sep 2009

The above post is over two years old and pretty much inactive.

I'm also a vet, actually viet nam era vet (SGT - USMC - 1973-1977).I came in a few years later than you and never saw any action, nor exposed to AO.

There is quite a bit of info out on the web concerning the AO exposure and H&N Cancer.

One thing that I didn't see you mention and is also pretty previlant these days concerning H&N Cancer,especially in non-tobacco users, and that's HPV.

Has any of the tissue form your original biopsy been tested for HPV?

Doesn't really matter in the long run, HPV or not..treatment is pretty much the same and cancer is cancer...

Hoping you find the information you seek...

Best,
John

jacqlyn46
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2010

Hi.
My name is Jacki..and my hubby's name is Les. In July of 2010, he was diagnosed with a tumor in his jaw that the dentist thought was just an abcess at first.
It was found to be SCC. All the VA doctors agree verbally that it could be both A.O. and Copenhangen related to the cause as contributing factors, but none of them will put it on paper.
The soft tissue involvement does not match up with any of the numbers on their list of soft tissue cancers for SCC or other cancers I guess.
To me, I feel that if they approve Prostate Cancer for Agent Orange, and other types of cancers, then it should be cancer across the board, and here in Montana I am fighting to get someones attention to get something done.
My hugs and prayers go out to you and yours.
Jacki
P.S. Latter part of last year my hubby had to have a second surgery to rough up his bone graft on his jaw because it wasn't mending to the mandibal and now he's swelling up all over again, and they have to figure out why, and what they're going to do. They say it could be cancer related, but haven't found it yet.

jacqlyn46
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2010

Hi.
My name is Jacki..and my hubby's name is Les. In July of 2010, he was diagnosed with a tumor in his jaw that the dentist thought was just an abcess at first.
It was found to be SCC. All the VA doctors agree verbally that it could be both A.O. and Copenhangen related to the cause as contributing factors, but none of them will put it on paper.
The soft tissue involvement does not match up with any of the numbers on their list of soft tissue cancers for SCC or other cancers I guess.
To me, I feel that if they approve Prostate Cancer for Agent Orange, and other types of cancers, then it should be cancer across the board, and here in Montana I am fighting to get someones attention to get something done.
My hugs and prayers go out to you and yours.
Jacki
P.S. Latter part of last year my hubby had to have a second surgery to rough up his bone graft on his jaw because it wasn't mending to the mandibal and now he's swelling up all over again, and they have to figure out why, and what they're going to do. They say it could be cancer related, but haven't found it yet.

Starpower48
Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2012

Mary. I too had cancer of the left tonsil and had a complete neck resection done with radiation in 1999. I have an aggregate of 27 months in vietnam. My first application to the VA was denied because I did not contract the cancer within 10 years of leaving Vietnam, but then they changed the qualifying time period to 30 years, so I reapplied. This time it was not the "right" kind of cancer. I just qualified last year for 60% disability due to ischemic heart disease. At that time they re opened my cancer claim and it was again denied, saying that studies have shown that not a "significant number of returning Vietnam veterans have shown a tendency to develop cancers of the tonsil". I have hired the legal firm of Woods and Woods out of Evansville, Indiana to file an appeal for me. They are veteran specialists and work totally on contingency. I'd be happy to supply you with their contact information if you are interested. The basis for my appeal, which I am currently researching myself, is that studies conducted were not adjusted to consider the number of returning veterans that did not have tonsils. In the 50's and 60's when most of us Vietnam era veterans were growing up, removal of tonsils in childhood was commonplace, and the pedriatic surgery of the day. Significantly reduced numbers of veterans who did not have tonsils MAY have skewed the results of such studies. Just thought you'd like to hear from one more. Good luck.

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8062
Joined: Sep 2009

Just an FYI, that Mary (the original poster), posted this thread over two years ago...

JG

Slowlane
Posts: 4
Joined: Mar 2011

Did you get an ENT to positively identify exactly where the Primary location was? It could have started from either a known or unknown area of the neck that is on the presumptive list. Mine got originally listed as base-of-tongue but that was just because it was the most obvious and first place you could see it. It turned out to be larynx upon further research. I also had a radical neck dissection -- aint they fun! Slowlane

vietnamvetwife
Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2012

my husband served in vietnam all of 1969 he was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2003 had part of his tongue removed followed by radiation therapy. that has destroyed his salivary glands , so with no saliva his teeth are now decaying, he also had chemo therapy. the va does give him disability for diabetes but doesn't recognise the oral cancer as being caused by agent orange. it recognizes tonsil, throat but not mouth. I don't see why his is denied.

vietnamvetwife
Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2012

my husband served in vietnam all of 1969 he was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2003 had part of his tongue removed followed by radiation therapy. that has destroyed his salivary glands , so with no saliva his teeth are now decaying, he also had chemo therapy. the va does give him disability for diabetes but doesn't recognise the oral cancer as being caused by agent orange. it recognizes tonsil, throat but not mouth. I don't see why his is denied.

jerryao
Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2010

cancer in aug2008 had claim in with va after3rd appeal va addmits cancer caused by agent orange squamous cell car of the tongue had part of tongre removed /radation and chemo cancer back in 2010 on c1 bone in neck rad again contact me for any info i can pass on to you

MarineE5
Posts: 748
Joined: Dec 2005

Even though this thread dates back to 2009, I'd like to share a bit of information to those seeking some info on their head and neck cancer and Agent Orange VA claim.

1st, depending on the type of head and neck cancer you have, you will more them likely be denied. Most Head and Neck cancers are not on the Presumptive List. As Slowlane above mentioned, his was larynx and that type is on the Agent Orange list. All the other types, like tonsil cancer are not.

With that said, that does not mean that you can not win your case. Each case is different and the VA views each case. You can appeal your case and win. A suggestion to anyone seeking information about claims that were Granted, you may want to go to the VA.gov site and search for < Board of Appeals >. Once you are in there, you can search in each year cases were heard and for your cancer type. The language in there is mumbo-jumbo to me except when you scroll down to the bottom of the claim to read, Denied or Granted. Find the ones that were granted and see what was done to Grant the claim. Read some of the denied ones to get a feel for that too.

It can be a long battle, but don't give up. Try to use a Veteran Service Officer with your case as well. They are familiar with the VA's paperwork and know exactly what the VA is looking for. You can find a Veteran Service Officer (VSO)at most Veteran's Organizations like the Vietnam Veteran's of America, DAV, VFW, etc.

My Best to Everyone Here

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8062
Joined: Sep 2009

JG

vetsdaughter
Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2012

Thank you for posting this information. I lost my father last week due to complications from surgery to remove a tonsil and lymph node. We were at a total loss for what may have caused the tonsil cancer and the doctors were puzzled as well since he didn't smoke or drink. My dad served in the army from 1960-1969 and served in Vietnam in combat for much of that time. It was only brought to my attention today the connection between agent orange and tonsil cancer. I plan to relate the details of my father's case in hopes that it will help adding it to the premtive list you mentioned. Regards

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8062
Joined: Sep 2009

Not to take anything away from the Agent Orange possibility. But HPV is also a very big contributor to H&N Cancer these days. Especially for those in their 40's, 50's and 60's and that aren't/weren't smokers or drinkers...

I am one for example...STGIII SCC Tonsils and a lymphnode, HPV+. never a tobacco user, mild beer drinker.

I am a Viet Nam Era Veteran.., didn't go over as I came in during the tail end 1973...

But I can really relate to the many vets that have suffered, and still are due to chemical exposure.

Best,
John

dejohnso
Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2009

Wanted to update everyone with good info - my husband who was diagnosed with diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the Tonsil, base of the tongue and spread to lymph nodes went through his series of chemo and radiation with several surgeries and is doing well 4 years later.  The cancer is in remission and life is getting back to normal.  As is common his VA claim was denied - we are researching and will probably be appealing.  Hope everyone else is doing well and wish you all the best.

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8062
Joined: Sep 2009

Awesome news on the hubby....

Always welcome to hear someone several years out doing well, and life goes on...

Stop by anythime...

JG

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