Can I join the military with a history of cancer?

jpark0908 Member Posts: 2 *
edited February 2023 in Military Cancer Survivors #1


I am a senior in high school and I am hoping to get into one of the Service Academies (Air Force Academy, Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy, West Point) or a ROTC program. The last step to my applications are to complete the Department of Defense Medical Exam. I think I heard somewhere that the military has a 5 year cancer free policy but does anyone know if I will pass the DOD medical exam with a history of cancer?

Just 3 months ago, I had stage 1 testicular cancer. (mixed germ cell tumor) I had one testicle removed and had an implant placed. I am now completely cancer free and after several CT scans and blood tests, there is no recurrence. My candidate fitness test scores are exceptional and I am back to competing in several varsity sports for my school.

Does anyone know or can anyone help me find out if I will be able to be medically qualified or maybe get a medical waiver? Thank you!


  • Grimkanji
    Grimkanji Member Posts: 1 *

    If you don’t mind I’m curious, how did you go?

  • jp52576
    jp52576 Member Posts: 1 Member

    I'm sure the OP is no longer in the same place as when they posted, but for anyone else that is looking into it, I'll tell you about my experience.

    I was enlisted in the Coast Guard when I was diagnosed, 2 months out of basic training. When I enlisted, the recruiter told me that 10% of each academy class was pulled from the enlisted ranks and didn't compete with the rest of the applicants. So, as soon as I finished basic and got settled at my first duty station I started my application. The medical officer following my cancer treatments was the same one who did my academy physical. Long story short, I was given a conditional appointment to the academy pending successful completion of the Naval academy prep school in May of that year. 2 weeks before I was to report to the academy they pulled my orders. Someone had finally looked at my medical record and saw that I had cancer. My family and I tried everything, congressional intervention, medical and age waivers, nothing worked. They would not go for any of it. I finished out my enlistment but never persued a degree.

    The best advice I can give you is to get your degree. Then, if you still want to serve, try for OCS (Officer candidate School). All branches of the military have them (except for maybe the Space Force). That way you aren't wasting your time just waiting for the 5 year mark to arrive.

    Good luck and I hope you get the opportunity to serve if it's what you want to do. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.