We close out May with the observance of Memorial Day. A day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and our freedom. Not all war casualties occur on the battlefield or during active fighting. Sometimes the death can occur years later. Even 30+ years later due to conditions, they endured during their time overseas.
As the veteran population ages, various cancers are emerging.
According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer is “a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells.” Cancerous tumors can form in almost any part of the body and occur when normal cells begin to grow out of control. There are many different types of cancer, each named for the part of the body where it starts. Cancer can be caused by a variety of things, including exposure to certain chemicals or radiation.
Cancer in Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates there 40,000 new cases per year of cancer in veterans. This is because they were exposed to a number of cancer-causing agents during their service. Some of these agents include:
- Pesticides: Pesticides are chemicals that are used to kill insects, rodents, and other pests. Many pesticides are cancer-causing agents.
- Burn pits: Burn pits were used during the Gulf War to dispose of waste materials. The burning of these materials created cancer-causing chemicals that were inhaled by nearby soldiers.
- Depleted uranium: Depleted uranium is a type of uranium that is used in some types of armor and ammunition. When depleted uranium is used in combat, it can create cancer-causing particles that are inhaled or ingested by soldiers.
Symptoms of cancer
Cancer can cause a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the type of cancer and where it is located in the body. Some common symptoms of cancer include:
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
- Unexplained bleeding or bruising
If you have any of these symptoms, whether you are a veteran or a civilian, it is important to see your doctor right away. Early detection is key to the successful treatment of cancer.
Treatment of cancer
Cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Some common cancer treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Newer cancer treatments, such as immunotherapy and targeted therapy, are also showing promise in treating cancer.
Most veterans’ medical treatment is covered by the VA. But cancer affects civilians too. If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, please seek medical treatment. If you are in need of blood draws and lab work, IPE Screening can provide these services at a savings. No appointment necessary.
For the families of the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, you have our eternal gratitude. Your loss is immense and can never be repaid.