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Esophageal cancer and agent orange.

Posts: 377
Joined: Oct 2010

I went to the VA again today to see how things were going concerning benefits as Vince served in Vietnam and was exposed to agent orange. Just wanted you to know this is not one of the cancers the VA considers related to agent orange. BUT the gentleman there told me if I could get enough people together we should file a class action suit against the VA. He had 2 widows last week who lost their husbands from EC and were in Vietnam. The VA wants all of us to just go away. Please pass the wod along and if we can get a large enough # of people I will file the suit. I was told to go to my VA representative from Georgia and get a letter from him too. If any of you could just do that part for your state we may stand a chance.



Donna70's picture
Posts: 921
Joined: Aug 2009

Hi Barb,
My friend's husband has just endured a bone marrow transplant for aplastic anemia and they think that was linked to Agent Orange and his service time in Vietnam. Don't think the VA likes to admit anything. Hope you have some success with getting them to admit that some of these illnesses are linked to the chemicals our fighting men were exposed to. Good luck!!

Posts: 30
Joined: Mar 2011

Ms. Barb,
I have been praying for you and your husband. Every now and then, I check in to see how everyone is and set about praying for those who are being tried. In California and Michigan, some vets have been able to win compensation for EC, under the Agent Orange provisions. My husband, was also a Vietnam vet who served 2 tours. Please check out these links..one is a forum for folks struggling with the VA

The other is a confidential study that I assume has since been declassified, written by a Admiral Zumwalt, who in a report to Veterans affairs, stated that he perceived an underlying pattern of cover-up and feels that statistically, there IS evidence to suggest a cause and effect.

"I further conclude that the Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Environmental Hazards has not acted with impartiality in its review and assessment of the scientific evidence related to the association of adverse health effects and exposure to Agent Orange."

"Agent Orange strongly hints at a discernible pattern, if not outright governmental collaboration, to deny compensation to Vietnam Veterans for disabilities associated with exposure to dioxin ."

"It can, in my judgment, be concluded, vith a very high degree of confidence, that it is at least as likely as not that the following are caused in humans by exposure to TCDD: non—Hodgkin’ s lymphoma, chloracne and other skin disorders, lip cancer, bone cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, birth defects, skin cancer, lung cancer, porphyria cutanea tarda and other liver disorders, Hodgkin’s disease, hematopoietic diseases, multiple myeloma, neurological defects and auto—immune diseases and disorders.
In addition, I am most comfortable in concluding that it is at least as likely as not that liver cancer, nasal/pharyngeal/esophageal cancers, leukemia, malignant melanoma, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, brain cancer, psychosocial effects, and gastrointestinal disease are service-- connected."

I was also told by an advocate of the Disabled Veterans, that it is a matter of policy to reject any claim, on the first go round without consideration. This is supposed to weed out frivolous claims. This made me very angry. There are people suffering out there who don't have the strength, resources or wherewithall, to apply again or go through an appeals process. This "policy" saves the government alot of money. My husband was also told early on by a career/retired COmmand Sgt. Major,, that he should go to the Disabled American Veterans an join as a lifetime member. The VA treats DAV members with more courtesy than those who are not. The DAV will also assign an advocate to you to help you cut through the beaurocratic machine. Go to www.dav.org

"Disabled American Veterans has never wavered in our commitment to serve our nation’s service-connected disabled veterans, their dependents and survivors. Our largest endeavor in fulfilling that mission is our National Service Program. In 88 offices throughout the United States and in Puerto Rico, the DAV employs a corps of approximately 260 National Service Officers (NSOs) who represent veterans and their families with claims for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense and other government agencies. Veterans need not be DAV members to take advantage of this outstanding assistance, which is provided free of charge."

My husband is currently receiving benefits and considered "80%" disabled, due to service connected illnesses caused by exposure to AO. We recently submitted a claim for EC. Once you reach 100 percent, you AND your husband will be eligable for medical coverage at no cost thru the VA medical system and you won't have to pay taxes on your house, although these benefits are not all-inclusive. There are more. He will also receive extra disability money for his spouse.

Don't give up. It really is a policy to say no, on the first go round. You have to fight this fight now. As the government continues to cut programs to people who are suffering from life-threatening diseases, who acquired them thru SERVING that very government, it will be increasingly difficult to collect those monies while our government assists the private sector and corporate culture with "BAILOUTS." Where's our bailout Obama?"

Anyway, I didn't intend for this to turn into a political conversation, but the failure to recognize EC, along with many other cancers which develop as a result of exposure to AO, is and of itself politically entrenched. I will be continuing my prayers for you and your husband. I hope this information helps. Luv u both.


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unclaw2002's picture
Posts: 664
Joined: Jan 2010


I think we spoke about this that my dad was in Vietnam (during the 60's) and was exposed to Agent Orange as well. He used to say it was everywhere and they practically bathed, breathed and ate the stuff. We talked about perhaps getting him tested for exposure after he got sick but never got to it. I filed the claim for my mom with the VA for death benefits related to having a cancer related to his Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. The VA told me it would be denied, and wouldn't be added to the list anytime soon, but I had to do that to preserve her rights in case the VA adds Esophageal Cancer to the list.

I will give you a call next week. I am so overwhelmed these days trying to do all the paperwork and estate stuff for my mom, and my job and just dealing with my own grief. Some days I just want to curl up and stop feeling so sad --- but then I have to get up and dust myself off. I know my dad and your Vince would tell us to "buck up" and I'm sure they have met up in Heaven already and are trading war stories.

I saw William's suggestion about contacting the wives of the President and Vice President. I may be able to get through to Jill Biden since I am in Delaware and I work for her son --- who knows perhaps we can get some attention.


Posts: 377
Joined: Oct 2010

If you could speak to Jow Biden that would be wonderful. I am in the process of just collecting names now. Please do call me when you get a chance and maybe we can get our ducks in a row. I know the grief and the paperwork. It really is tough.

I have thought of contacting the preident and Michele too. I will go all the way with this.


Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2011

Just seeing if anything new has come up. My dad passed away in May of EC. He was a Vietnam vet and is similar to all the cases I read about. My mom submitted a claim and we haven't heard a final decision but assuming it will be denied. What do we do next? Sounds like a lot of you have been through this. Any help?

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2011

Dear Barb,
I lost my husband of 34 years to EC in November of 2010. He was a Marine in Viet Nam and exposed to Agent Orange in 1968-1969. I would like to join you and others to do what we must so the VA will recognize EC on its presumptive list of service connection for EC occurring in Veterans who served in the Republic of Viet Nam and were exposed to the herbicide agent.
My email address is: mystiquefarm@aol.com
Kind regards,
Debbie Mooney

ritawaite13's picture
Posts: 249
Joined: Aug 2011

I would also like to join your group of caregivers of VietNam Vets who now have EC. My husband was in VietNam 1967-68 and was a forward observer with the infantry. He said the US Government was spraying that stuff all over the place. Greg quit smoking in 1978, he has never been treated or had any problems with acid reflux and he is not a drinker. He has no typical risk factors for EC. He was diagnosed with stageIV on July 11, 2011 and suffered a severe stroke on July 20, 2011.

For our own government to do this to our own soldiers and then turn their backs on them later is a travesty. I am working with the VietNam Veterans of America here in MN to make sure this is all recorded on his military record. I have contacted both of the senators from Minnesota regarding this and will do whatever I have to do to make sure EC is included on THE LIST.

I know we are just starting a huge fight. Prayers are always appreciated.

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2012

I tried to file a claim and was only hurting back then. I was denied SC for my husband's EC and did not feel up to pursuing the appeal process. I did not know how a healthy person who was never sick got so sick so fast and died within 2 years. We had only been married 4 years when he died. I had two small children and was not strong enough at the time. Now I am a social worker at the VA and want to pursue it but EC has not been added as a presumptive yet! What do I need to do?

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2014

Hello, I was wondering if you are still working on getting esophageal cancer onto the presumptive list?  I am from Illinois and also lost my husband to this type of cancer.  His claim was denied.  Please let me know, as I am interested in working as a group to file a suit.  Thanks very much in advance!



Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2015

Hello, I was also wondering if work is still going on trying to get EC on the presumptive list. I am from South Carolina and my husband died this year March from EC and colon cancers and the VA had denied my husbands claim. I intend to continue pursuing it, and if anyone has any information or direction it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,



Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2015


I just lost my husband to esophageal cancer 9/7/2015 he was recieving VA benefits for type 2 diabetes I just went to the VA and the person I spoke to said because the cause of death was linked to esophegeal cancer I would be denied benefits, he suggested finding medical journals that link the 2 together and also if the doctor would agree  there is a link between the two. has anything changed as far as linking the two  together since most of the posts were made? If anyone could help me with the information it would be very helpful.


Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2017

Hello everyone,
Like so many of you I lost my husband Gary to EC in 2003, 14 years today. We also filed with the VA and got nowhere. He was in Vietnam 68 - 70 served two terms. Never smoked and no health risks for EC except his exposure to agent orange. It amazes me how many are on here with the same claim and it's still not listed. They risked their lives there and are still suffering from their service . Good luck to all in their claims,
Judy in Brockton, MA

LorettaMarshall's picture
Posts: 519
Joined: Sep 2012

Dear "Jkmelch"

Please see my response to your letter here:  https://csn.cancer.org/node/312447.  Your letter is all too familiar.  Having to part with the love of your life cannot be put into words to explain your grief.  We are so sorry that Gary lost his battle to EC in 2003.  And to make matters worse, you lost the battle with the VA to have Gary's service in Vietnam honored in the way it should have been.  And you are correct, so far as I can tell, STILL Esophageal Cancer is still not recognized as having been caused by exposure to Agent Orange.  What a shame?  So since so many others have written in the past since I've been monitoring and contributing to this site, and none have found the answers they were seeking, I thought I should post my "current" findings on a separate topic so that others could see for themselves how the VA is dealing with this cancer.  Not well I say!  Yell


Wife of William DX w/Adenocarcinoma at the GE junction, EC Stage III (T3N1M0) in 2002, but thankfully still a survivor.  


Toni C
Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2017

Hello Everyon

Like so many of you I lost my husband to EC 4 months ago, I went to the VA on the advice of a friend. My husband was in Vietnam exposed to Agent Orange. I did all the paper work just to recieve a letter from them saying I need to submit all of his medical records, proof that he was there which they have, and a letter from his doctor stating that his cancer could have been a result of Agent Orange along with a case study. Even if I get all this they might still say it had nothing to do with it. I am going to try to get all they asked for but I will probably still get denied. I wish you all good luck. This was a horible time for him and our family her suffered more than any one person should. 


LorettaMarshall's picture
Posts: 519
Joined: Sep 2012

Dear Toni ~ My response to JKmelch is equally addressed to you.  I can readily believe the sad story of you and your husband's battle with Esophageal Cancer.  After reading your letter of yesterday, I felt you at least deserved an answer.  It will not be one you want.  Since I'm not on the board that makes final decisions at the VA, I cannot speak for them. I am not a medical person, only the wife of an EC survivor, Stage III first diagnosed in 2002.  Thank God my husband is still a survivor.  The words, "I'm sorry" sound so trite but all of us here at the EC link are always sad to learn that yet someone else's life was lost due to this vicious cancer.  Even more, we are sorry that veterans who served in the jungles of Vietnam are now required to enter a maze of endless paperwork in order to beg for benefits.  For shame.  If anyone reading this has successfully "beat the VA at their own game", I hope they will write and tell us exactly how and when, and how long it took for them to receive any recognition that the death of their loved one to Esophageal Cancer was caused by exposure to Agent Orange.

I am very serious about contacting your Senator FIRST.  If he/she can't get help for you, your own time would be better spent trying to regroup and carry on life without the love of your life.  Needless to say I am very skeptical, but it you are going to pursue this and are successful, please share it with us.  I would hate to see you supply all the necessary paperwork, and my soul that will be exhaustive, and still the claim be denied, or for that matter, be found on someone's desk months later not yet acknowledged!  Once more, pardon my disillusionment, but I'm not happy about the way our EC vets are "treated".  Cry 


Wife of William first DX in Nov. of 2012, EC Stage III (T3N1M0) but thankfully still a survivor.

I put my response on a "separate topic form" here:  https://csn.cancer.org/node/312447



Toni C
Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2017

Loretta, thank you so much for your honesty. I don't believe I will get anywhere with them but feel I need to try for him and all the others who have suffered with EC. I am trying very hard to carry on with life without him. There are so many things that I don't have answers to that went on with him. I truly believe that agent orange had a roll in his cancer, there is no family history of cancer. 

I am truly happy that your husband is a survivor. One of Jims friends was diagnosed a month after he was and he lost his battle 5 months before Jim. In the year and a half after he was diagnosed we spent more time in the hospital than we did home. I never expected the last time that he was in that I would leave the hospital without him. I hope that if there are other vets out there that have been told that they have EC that they talk to there doctors about agent orange. All we really need is a case study showing a link between the two. 

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