Agent Orange Exposure Appears to Double Risk of Invasive Skin Cancer

By Annette M. Boyle

Mark Clemens, MD

Mark Clemens, MD

HOUSTON — Even four decades later, veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War have twice the risk of developing unusually invasive nonmelanotic skin cancers compared with the general population, according to a recent study.

“We noticed a lot of veterans coming into our clinic had very aggressive squamous and basal cell carcinomas, and it seemed like there was a connection to Agent Orange exposure, but a literature search failed to find any studies that showed an association in humans,” said Mark Clemens, MD, assistant professor of plastic surgery, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Previous studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between 2-, 3-, 7-, 8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD), the highly toxic contaminant in Agent Orange and nonmelanotic invasive skin in animals.

As of 2009, more than 485,000 veterans with Agent Orange exposure had registered with the VA. DoD and the VA recognize and provide benefits for many TCDD exposure-associated diseases, including peripheral neuropathy, amyloidosis, B-cell leukemia, birth defects, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, type 2 diabetes mellitus, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, ischemic heart disease, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, porphyria cutanea tarda, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, soft-tissue sarcomas and chloracne.

A U.S. Huey helicopter spraying Agent Orange over Vietnam.

A U.S. Huey helicopter spraying Agent Orange over Vietnam.

Currently, however, skin cancer is not presumptively associated with Agent Orange exposure. The latest Institute of Medicine update to the Veterans and Agent Orange report concluded that there is “inadequate and insufficient information to determine whether there is an association between exposure to Agent Orange and basal cell or squamous cell cancer.”1

That didn’t dissuade the M.D. Anderson researchers from further investigation.

“In our clinic, we talked about an association on a daily basis. We wanted to systematically take the first step toward conclusively making that case,” Clemens said. “We did a pilot study with 100 consecutive patients and found a surprisingly high rate of 51% of veterans had nonmelanotic skin cancer, which is about twice what you would see in an age-matched cohort in the general population,” Clemens told U.S. Medicine.

The researchers evaluated the medical records of patients who enrolled in the Agent Orange registry at the Washington, DC, VAMC from August 2009 to January 2010. The patients ranged in age from 56 to 80 years old, with a mean age of 65.7 years. Only patients with Fitzpatrick skin types I-IV (fair to medium complexions) were included in the study. The results of the study appeared in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.2

“We compared whether they sprayed fields every day, lived and worked in the area or traversed a field once as part of work and then looked at the incidence by group,” Clemens said. Among the 30% of patients who actively sprayed Agent Orange, the risk of skin cancer was even higher — 73%. Of those who lived or worked in areas sprayed with the chemical, 46% had nonmelanotic invasive skin cancer (NMISC). For veterans who reported only traveling through areas exposed to Agent Orange, the rate dropped to 21%.

About 43% of patients had chloracne, known to be caused by dioxin exposure. The presence of chloracne increased the rate of NMISC substantially, to 80%. Cutaneous melanoma occurred in 9% of the patients, similar to the 8.8% rate seen in individuals over the age of 65 in the general population. More than one-fourth of the patients (26%) had other malignancies.

Men with lighter skin and light eye color also had increased risk. Of the 14 men with Fitzpatrick skin type I, the lightest, 10 (71%) had NMISC. Just under 60% of those with Fitzpatrick skin type II and 45% of those with type III had NMISC, while none of those with skin type IV did. Of the 38 veterans with blue eyes, 66% (25) had NMISC, as did 60% (9) of those with green or hazel eyes. The incidence rate was much lower in veterans with brown eyes, at 36%.

“The takeaway from the study is that there may be an association between Agent Orange and development of nonmelanotic skin cancer, but it needs to be studied on a larger scale with thousands of patients. What we’ve observed is very, very suspicious and supports what’s been reported anecdotally,” Clemens noted.

Clemens said he and his colleagues are hoping to enroll patients in a larger, prospective study. The researchers pointed out that their study had some significant limitations, such as reliance on recalled TCDD exposure and the absence of a control group of nonexposed Vietnam-era veterans.

While research continues, Clemens encouraged physicians to closely monitor veterans with Agent Orange exposure for skin cancers.

“Most patients in this group don’t fall under the screening regimen. They may not have a family history of skin cancer; they’re over 65. Even if there isn’t a formal screening recommendation, veterans exposed to Agent Orange should have a physician look them over from head to toe and check any areas where they might have skin cancer,” he suggested.

“It’s difficult with just 100 patients to stratify subcohorts to determine who is most or least at risk, but the incidence was clearly higher among individuals with fair skin and light eyes,” Clemens added. “We can say that we really need additional study to determine the relative risk within this group and how we might best help these veterans.”

National Research Council. Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2012. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2014.

Clemens MW, Kochuba AL, Carter ME, Han K, Liu J, Evans K. Association between Agent Orange Exposure and Nonmelanotic Invasive Skin Cancer: A Pilot Study. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2014 Feb;133(2):432-7.

Comments (50)

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  1. Thomas Lucken says:

    Not just Vietnam! Korean DMZ veterans were exposed not only during the token presumptive dates of 68 to 71. But till 1991, when we turned the American sector over to the ROKs!!!!!

    VA/Feds admit to use on DMZ and admit that dioxins remain present in ground/soil for decades. But refuse to admit that us soldiers were exposed to that very soil till 1991.

    Now many of us are battling A.O. illnesses and many more don’t even know they were exposed.

    • Ben Johnson says:

      The DOD and the Air Force will not admit it,but tactical sites out side of the DMZ in Korea were sprayed by Air. I was at C Battery 4thbn 44th artillery Herc air defense. They made us go inside and the site was sprayed by air,then they made us go out and clean up the radar equipment with out any protective clothing. I am still trying to find some kind of record. Were ever they are they are hidden very well. The Air Force admits some paper work was lost ? Or destroyed

  2. mark beynart says:

    I was in RVN from 11/70 to 11/71 and was based at Quang Tri province at a small airfield. I contracted choroidal Melanoma in 2008. I did an FOIA request and the numbers of vet’s that had been diagnosed with Choroidal Melanoma were staggering—the numbers for Veterans were off the scales. Number of occurrences were 5-6 per million citizens nationwide–we had about 300M citizens as of the last census-or about 15-18 cases a year for non Veterans. My eye was removed in 2012. there were about 20M Veterans–ir 1/15 of the civilian population
    With 300M citizens they had 15 to 18 cases per million annually. Foia requested documents shows the VA treated in 2007–1967 Vets, 2008–2092 Vets, 2009–2237–2010-2067 and 2011 1577 Vets. I”ll be glad to send anyone this report if they are interested. If 15 times the normal occurrence for any type cancer is unusual–I think someone should do more investigating.

    • Robert Barnhill says:

      I was in the Brown Water Navy in the Mekong Delta 68-69. I have been fighting basal and squamous cell skin cancers sine 1978. I currently have a claim in with the VA which they denied. No surprise. I am going to fight it as far as I can go. For the past two years I have had to under go some type of surgery at the rate of one each quarter.

      I would appreciate a copy of the report.

      Thanks

    • Dave Chapman says:

      Hi Mark,
      I was sorry to read of the loss of your eye, etc. After reading your post I am hoping you could advise me on how I could finalize my claim, if you would be so inclined. My situation is that as a Vietnam Vet from 1966-1970 I was exposed to AO. In 2014 I had 4 eye surgeries at the VA on my left eye. Although I still have my eye I am considered blind in that eye. I also had a squamous cell cancer diagnosis on my left lower leg. When diagnosed it was smaller than the size of a pencil eraser but would not heal so I went to have it looked at immediately and it was diagnosed as squamous cell cancer. The VA made me wait almost 4 mo for surgery to remove it and by then it was over 2″ in diameter and to get it all out they had to go down to the bone and scrape cells. I then needed a skin graft to repair the gaping hole. I applied for benefits on the cancer in Nov ’14 and their response was I needed to send medical journal articles that proved AO was the cause of my cancer. I have never smoked and no one in my family has had any cancer. I believe I should receive compensation but it is being denied. I would appreciate your sending any articles that might help my claim. I worked on PBR’s in the Delta region in and out of the water pretty continually. I haven’t been able to find specific articles that I think they would accept as proof. Thank you for your time.
      Dave Chapman

      • Bob Selby says:

        Dave,
        I also lost my eye and would appreciate any material that you might have that would help my claim. I also believe that Agent Orange could have cause it. Maybe if we get enough of us working this, maybe we can do something. Thank you for your time.

        Bob Selby

    • Patrick Barrett says:

      Mark, sorry for your loss. Mine was caught early enough to save. I would like copies/references of any information that may help me with my VA claim. Mine was discovered in 1999. As you can imagine, nothing was ever mentioned to me for some time. And for some time now, denied. Although the eye was saved, I have loss about 50% of my peripheral vision. Thanks for any help.

    • Bob Selby says:

      Mark,
      I lost my left eye to the same thing and would ask you to please send all the information that you have on Choroidal Melanoma. Thank you very much. I’m going to try to work this cause I believe that Agent orange could have caused this. Thanks again and welcome home!
      Bob

    • BH Nobles III says:

      I have metastatic malignant melanoma and have had 3 cancers removed since January 24, 2016 to January 4, 2017. The last melanoma removed (12-4-17) caused the removal of the middle lobe of my right lung.

      Fifteen – eighteen years ago, I began to have melanomas on the skin surface removed. I was never a person to tan or go without a hat , cap or shirt. Then this past year (1-2016), I had the first tumor removed from my left biceps brachii. March 2016, the second melanoma was removed from the left axillary lymph nodes.

      They tell me that melanoma is not recognized as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. However; if I can find documentation that there has been cases of melanoma cancers from Agent Orange they will consider it in granting my VA Benefits.

      I hope you still are willing to share your information. I have just about been busted paying medical and travel expenses. I desperately need the VA to grant some benefits.

      God Bless you for your service to your country and fellow man. BH

      • Caroline Cowan says:

        My late husband. Was in Vietnam Nam in 1969-70. Being fair skinned, he developed mesatastic melanoma. He passed away in 2001. The VA denied me any benefits because they said this type of cancer was ” not on the list” for cancers resulting in agent orange exposure. If anyone has any information that would help me to further my request to the VA, I would appreciate it.

      • Robert Bandusky says:

        Sir: I was in ll and lV 1970-1971 I landed my helicopter in many defoliated LZ’s. In Dec 2016, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. It was removed and has not spread at this writing. Last week a Basel cell was removed from my nose.
        VA has denied my agent orange claim at this time. Like you, I am trying to find data I’d research on realationship of Agent Orange and skin cancers.
        If you find data, let me know! Thanks Bob Bandusky. Good luck and a rapid recovery. Gos bless you

    • Marcus Franklin says:

      I served in Vietnam from 8/71 to 4/72 and like you have a diagnosis of Melanoma. In July 2016 my dermatologist found 6 Melanoma,one on the left forearm and 5 on my face. In 20 years of practice he had never had a patient with this many melanoma diagnosed at the same time. There is no family history of melanoma. Your case is striking. I had MOH’s surgery every 7 – 10 days last July thru August and now huge scars.
      Please e-mail the report you obtained thru Foia concerning melanoma in Vietnam Veterans relating to exposure to Agent Orange. Thank you for sharing your story and information.

  3. ervin nordmann says:

    I was also located in the Mekong Delta with HAL 3 seawolves. I have been fighting the skin cancer battle and have more scares than I can count. It is a shame the politicians really dont give a crap about veterans, they all should be sprayed with agent orange and have to go through with what all veterans go through and maybe they might have a different view.
    Maybe with the overhaul of the VA things might change, I guess since all these conflicts were never declared an official war they think all vets are just another number. Put all vets in congress and that will be a WAR we can win.

  4. Frank Van Camp says:

    US army at Long Binh 1968-69. Numerous basil cell, squamous and melanoma cancers. Most had to be removed surgically. Member NJ Agent Orange Point Man Project. Why cannot Congress and Senate spend money on those who deserve it instead of “feel good get re-elected” projects. Cut the waste and abuse and spend to cure and help those who earned and deserved it.

    • Bill Carpenter says:

      Also US army at Long Binh 1968-69. Also have history of malignant skin growths. Was a supply expediter for the 92nd Engineers. Transported drums of herbicide that would fall off truck and saturate our feet. I transported supplies all over South Vietnam and would spot spraying operations I know I was also exposed to.

  5. Tom Harper says:

    I served in DaNang from 1967 to end of 1968. I have had Basil Cell on my upper right arm, squamous on the back of my left hand and Basil cell on my scalp. All three were removed by surgery. In addition I have had Ocular Melanoma(my claim was denied) in both eyes and prostate cancer. I am convinced that these health problems are related to agent orange in Vietnam and the US Army Chemical school. I was also expose to solvents on a daily basis during my years as a company armorer. I also had liquid Mustard gas applied to the back of my hands. We need better research.

    • SEdge says:

      Tom,
      My father served in Vietnam and had been pretty healthy until about 7 years ago when he went blind in his left eye. The VA said they could find nothing wrong with it. He continued to work as he typically had until about six months ago when the pain from his eye became too much. Long story short, he now had melanoma in his eye and lung. How can this not be AO and how do we prove it?

    • Tom Harper says:

      This is an update to my Comments Feb 15, 2015. Since my earlier comments I have had surgery by a Skin Doctor and a plastic Surgeon to remove a very difficult basal cell cancer from my upper lip. I also blind in my left eye and very poor vision in my right.

  6. Steve Wiese says:

    I served in RVN from 11/69 thru 12/70 in the First Cavalry Division. Being in the Cav we moved around frequently and many of the areas I was in I don’t recall.

    Since the late 80’s I have had no less than 250 skin cancers surgically removed. I also had my prostate removed due to prostate cancer in 2001. I firmly believe the numerous skin cancers are related to Agent Orange. Who do I go to regarding this concern?

    I currently receive disability for the prostate cancer but feel the skin cancer is also tied to this.

    Thanks,

    Steve W.

  7. Arden Jensen says:

    I was an 11B who was in and on the Korean DMZ (2/9 inf.) from July 1969 through August 1970. I have squamous cell carcinoma. Neither my mother nor my father, who mowed yards for a living in Miami, Florida, and was thus exposed to massive amounts of sun, had skin cancer.

  8. RRichards says:

    Served with 101st Airborne in I Corp, mainly north of Phu Bia and out of Camp Evans, ’69-’70 although I did spend . Just had my second Melanoma removed in six months going back to Oct 2014. Statistics for survival with ‘second occurrences’ of this cancer is very low. 6 mos. to 15 mos.! With the numbers the VA has on these types of cancer I can’t understand why they’re dragging their heels on giving these types cancer ‘service connection’ for Agent Orange! How many have to die before they do? I have two new grandsons that it looks like I won’t be around to watch grow up much…. 🙁 We’re not just numbers like they think, we’re actual people, with families! Wake up VA!

  9. Tom LaPenter says:

    I served 67-68 in I corp USMC. Moved around a lot do to assigned to explosives unit. I just finished up with lower eye lid surgery 1 to remove basal cell and 2 to repair eye lid. lots of cells removed from my arms, another on my chest, several on my face and next my scalp.
    Also lost half my colon to cancer another surgery and two other liver surgeries to remove tumors. All has been denied by VA. Don’t they think we are so tired of all the cover ups over the years.

  10. Richard Donegan says:

    I was security forces with the Air Force in Tuy Hoa AB, 68-69. AO was stored on our base and was sprayed around it 17 times in time I was there. Because of the heat the 55 gallon drums leaked but we were told there was no problems. I walked thru dried AO on the ground at the ammo dump each evening when I went to get napalm that overflowed its containers because of the heat, to take to the guys in bunkers and towers for the evening shift.
    I’ve had 7 basil and squamous cell carcinomas removed from my legs, two over my right eye and many others removed from my arms and back. All denied.
    I also have peripheral neuropathy in my feet, legs, hips, hands and now starting up my arms. Denied because it wasn’t reported within a year of service in Vietnam, although no one knew what it was then and it wasn’t even approved by the VA as a presumptive disease until 1984.
    What we all need are examples of where the VA has approved these type of claims. I did a FOIA request for my claim file and got it on a CD – all 1,394 pages. Most of the documents were duplicates and even triplicates of the same thing – just enough to take a week or so to finally find out their thinking (or lack thereof) as to why they denied these. I found they didn’t take them into any type of study, just denied immediately because they weren’t on the presumptive list, and, in the case of my neuropathy, just denied immediately because I didn’t report it within one year of my service.
    I know some vets have won cases like this on appeal never on immediate claim) so how do we get copies of these cases?

    • Lawrence Shelton says:

      Go to the internet and search for ” V A CITATIONS ON AGENT ORANGE AND (your disorder…melanoma etc) they will discuss the reasons why the claim was approved or denied. Both are important to review. Generally wins are supported by proper medical backup.

  11. Dennis R. Skelton says:

    I was in Viet Nam (1970-1971). I have had several basal cells removed. I filed a claim with the VA in 2011 and was denied. I too believe more research needs to be done on this. I also had a brother die of lung cancer and (viet nam 1969-19700 we are still in the process of working through the claim process with the VA.

  12. Paul H Weisenberger says:

    I spent two tours in Viet Nam. Can Tho Aug 1968 to aug 1969

    Long Than Jan 1972 to Mar 1972 then Da Nang area from Mar 1972 to Dec 1972

    In 2007 I was treated for Basal Cell Carcinoma using Mohs micrographic surgery

    Then Jan 2015 I was treated 1st with Mohs micrographic surgery and then referred to cancer specialist for Radiation Treatment

  13. Michael Rohde says:

    I served with Australian Forces in Phuoc Tuy province (now called Ba Ria Province) in 1971. Over the years, I have had numerous squamous cell skin cancers removed from my arms and face, including about 1/3 of my bottom lip. I have a fair complexion.

  14. John Shoemaker 66-67 says:

    AO testing! I worked with a vet who was a Ranch Hand, they sprayed the stuff. He informed me that every five years the Air Force would send him to San Diego for testing. They would take fatty tissue from the buttock’s area & test it for dioxin.
    They would take the parts per million found & multiply it by the number of years you left country.
    Haven’t heard anything about this from the VA.

  15. mark beynart says:

    I’ve been fighting the VA for 7 years for compensation for multiple skin cancers, PTSD, choroidal melanoma which cost me my eye, and a few other issues. A week ago I received another denial for benefits.
    I’m not done yet–the VA gave me lots of pain meds after a surgery
    I had for a perforated colon after they did a colonoscopy. Now they have my problems list includes drug abuse, alcohol abuse, I don’t drink anymore, cannabis abuse–don’t smoke anymore, nicotine abuse-don’t smoke cigarettes anymore and a few more abuse problems. I guess all Vietnam vet’s have some problems but mine are many

    mark

  16. Jillian Cordova says:

    All of this is very interesting. My father did two tours in Vietnam (unfortunately, not sure of dates or particular locations) and passed away almost eight years ago due to complications from metastatic ocular melanoma. Never once did we attribute it to exposure to Agent Orange until a friend of the family suggested it. Can any of you provide me more information from what you have found? He was first diagnosed back in 1999, had eye removed and then was essentially in remission until 2006 when it first mets to his lungs followed by liver and spine. Thank you so much for your time.

    • Robert Selby says:

      Jillian,

      Did you ever receive any information from other veterans concerning your father’s ocular melanoma? I, too, have ocular melanoma and I am trying to find any information I can about it. It appears that a significant amount of people have lost their eye to Agent Orange. Any help that you can provide, I would definitely appreciate. Thank you for your time and understanding. Additionally, please accept my condolences for your father passing.

      Bob

      • Bob Selby says:

        Did you ever receive any information from other veterans concerning your father’s ocular melanoma? I, too, have ocular melanoma and I am trying to find any information I can about it. It appears that a significant amount of people have lost their eye to Agent Orange. Any help that you can provide, I would definitely appreciate. Thank you for your time and understanding. Additionally, please accept my condolences for your father passing.

  17. Martha says:

    My husband was in Vietnam and was exposed to agent orange, he developed diabetes and then basil cell carcinoma on his face, later developed malignant melonima which killed him. I only hope the VA will at some point be held responsible for this horrible disease

    • DON says:

      Mary, I’m so sorry for your loss. I was in Vietnam 1971-1972. The doctors have surgically removed numerous basil and squamous cell cancers from my head, face, chest, and leg. I am a survivor of stage 4 throat cancer. After learning from others that I should file an Agent Orange claim for my “upper respiratory” and skin cancers, I did so in November 2015, along with numerous other duty related issues. Last week, I received a denial from VA on my claims for upper respiratory throat aND skin cancers, along with denials for orher claims. The denial stated that since the upper respiratory cancer started in my tonsils, it does not qualify. I am ecstatic to have survived this dreaded desease, but I, too, would love to see that our government takes responsibility for those they send into harms’ way. A VA doctor even had the audacity to tell me that the VA does not approve claims for upper respiratory cancers if they originate anywhere above the larynx. As mentioned, VA also denied my claim for skin cancers, even though the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has published articles in medical journals that link skin cancers to agent orange exposure.

      A former VA doctor who is currently treating me for skin cancers told me that it was all about the numbers. In other words, VA will continue to deny claims until the numbers are fiscally manageable. Of course, that means a lot of us have to die first. So sad.

      So I just lost my first few battles; albeit, the war rages one.

      Have an outstanding and safe 2016.

    • Melody Eddins says:

      I am so sorry for your loss. It’s a tragedy we have to lose so many loved ones before they will take responsibility for putting them in the midst of this poison. I wonder how many of the ones sitting on this board served in Vietnam, or even served in the military?

  18. Jerry Lynch says:

    USAF, in country 71-72 near Saigon. I’ve had 14 separate incidents of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, all over (neck, throat, face, back, ears, forehead, chest). I included this info with paperwork I submitted to the VA for other maladies and was categorically denied any benefits for skin cancer.

    • William F Jones says:

      I too have mastic melanoma . Served from 67 to 1970 in Vietnam and Nationalist China. I have a 12 inch scare on my back from surgery and another under my right arm from last year and tumors on my liver , kidneys , Heart , lungs, and not least around my neck. I have been give 4 to 6 months. I find it hard to believe that our government doesn’t take agent orange very series.
      Not much can be done for me but there are a lot of others that are in need of help and we as military have served our country with pride should have the best help we can get and the compensation we are in-tilted too.
      Some times it seems that those who haven’t been in service should make better decision for those who have given them their freedom and the right to live a life without any of the pain that so many of our military people have had to go through.
      If any of them spent time in some of the areas that have conflict and destruction and be over run by the enemy and see death every day. I believe that those that have the means should step up to the plate and do the right thing. Guess I am dreaming.

  19. Laurie Whitlark says:

    I was in Nam 67-68. From February 1868 to May 24 1968, I was at a Special Forces camp called Katum within War Zone C. Katum had the highest Agent Orange in II Corps and the second highest in all of Viet Nam. Every member of the team that was there at that time developed one cancer or another. About 7 died from it. Only 4 of us are left alive. I developed Squamous Cell Cancer stage 4 in 2010. Since it had taken a year for the VA to treat me for a torn Rotator Cuff, I went to civilian doctors. I put in a claim for Agent Orange. It was denied. My team mates got cancer from Agent Orange but VA in their wisdom, decided mine wasn’t. I am appealing via an Veterans Advocacy group.

  20. Donna Conner says:

    My husband was also in Vietnam (67-68). He has been battling squamous cell cancer of the skin, neck and head from approx. 1975. He has had a lot of Mohs surgeries and many other surgeries for his condition. Since 2011 he has had 4 or five surgeries that have required skin grafts. In 2013 he had the left ear removed along with some of the left side of his face and a pectoralis flap was used to reconstruct the left side of his face.
    Since that time he has had radiation on two separate occasions. At this time the flap that was placed has completely disappeared and he has a large open wound in its place that will not heal and needs to have a bandage on it all the time. January 2016 he lost his left eye. His nose, forehead and right ear have also been affected by this. He has also had lung cancer that was attributed to herbicide and we do receive benefits for that. On many occasions we have also tried to get benefits from the VA for the skin cancer and basically have been told the same as all of you and the claim has been denied. Maybe they might listen if there was a class action suit filed against them. Do Not know if that is a practical solution, but it might get some ones attention. Just a thought.

  21. linc Jayson says:

    I was an L-19/Bird Dog flying mechanic stationed at Phu Loi from Feb 68-Feb 69. Used to watch as a dozen or so C-130’3 would form up over our base, do a test spray before they headed off to defoliate and can’t help but believe that the Squamous Cell Carcinoma I have is somehow related to that exposure. I submitted my Dermatologist’s records of 16 years of treatments for various skin conditions to the VA and their response was more documentation or publications were needed from my doctor. My doctor says there is nothing more he can submit. After reading the many comments from folks who were denied compensation with more serious conditions than mine, I feel it will be a lost cause. They haven’t officially denied my claim so I’ll wait and see. Linc Jayson

  22. Doug Lokey says:

    I was in Vietnam in 70/71 have had exposure to AO and I have skin cancer. I am going in for my 9th surgery. The VA does not and will not relate this to AO until most of us are in the ground, and thats a sad thing. No one in my family has skin cancer but me.

  23. Larry denton says:

    Hey Mark and all…

    USAF C-130 Combat Support Group,(ground crew/Engine spec) Air Base PI and all over Vietnam 1964 to late 66. I have had Seven lager cyst?/growths cut out of neck,shoulders, and back, plus one large cancer out on forearm. VA says nothing as to what, when, or how these things are. Also Strange High Blood pressure problem with serious infections /low immune responses and Severe Fibromyalgia.
    Would like a copy of report or you direction as how to define what these grows are called (defined)
    I always hear ” this is not related to Agent Orange or dioxin…thanks

  24. Stewart says:

    I joined the Air Force in 1975 at the age of 18 and was sent to Little Rock AFB in Arkansas. I know most of you here were in Vietnam and I thank you for your service there. Jacksonville, Arkansas,where the base is became very important to me a few years ago. I heard that the Hercules Plant next door to the base was a major plant for AO. In 1993 the EPA did a super fund cleanup there. I have had several squamous cell spots removed and another consult next week with another provider involved. I also have Ischemic Heart Disease, high blood pressure, had a small stroke 12 years ago. The VA has denied my claims saying that even though the EPA considered it a hot spot the VA doesn’t and my claim was denied. My cardiologist write them a letter stating that he believes there is a 50% or better chance that me being there contributes to my heart disease. They chose to ignore. As always time is on their side not ours. Keep up the good fight.

  25. Carl Korynas says:

    I served in Vietnam 69-70, when I was there I got sunburn all the time as I am fair skin with blonde hair, I always tried to stay out of the sun and use sun block.
    I am the only person in my family to have cancer of any kind. I had lymphoma and was in VA hospital for 8 weeks.
    Now I fight skin cancer and have had 5 surgeries, I am 72 years old. when I was in Vietnam they sprayed Agent Orange and my head and arms would get the agent orange on my skin…I also had sunburn almost the whole time I was there. I am now going through radiation on my head for skin cancer…..I will always believe this is directly caused by Agent Orange…I am the only one in my family with cancers and I have 2 brothers both do not have cancers and I am the only one who served on the ground in Vietnam…..VA has taken very good care of me, but I feel their should be more study on this.

  26. Ted Panchella says:

    I was in Thialand in 1963 with the marines we were at the royal this are base .We were billeted at camp friendship .We walked the perimeter for guard duty and our tent building was next to the fence.As of today I have type2 dibetiese and many squamous cell carcinomas removed and growing .The VA turned me down two times and lm now on a appeal.I finally hired a great lawyer and I am waiting to hear .I wish I had hired her 1st but I believed in the system which was horrible.I recommend to any one,don’t waste time,get help with a lawyer.Its been almost nine year now .I bid you good luck and Semper Fi.

  27. Teresa Fredenburg says:

    My husband a Vietnam Veteran has metastasis squamous cell carcinoma in his head. This has resulted in complete paralysis of the left side of his face including loss of the ability to open his eyelid and use the left side of his mouth and tongue. This paralysis is spreading to the other side and soon he won’t be able to see or swallow. He was treated at MD Anderson with chemo and proton therapy but it only bought him more time as the cancer has invaded his nerves into his brain and is inoperable. He has light skin and blue eyes so I believe according to this article was more susceptible. He said the agent orange was all around him sometimes soaking his clothes.

  28. John Bemiss says:

    I was a weapons mechanic(bomb loader on 4F) at Ubon Thailand(1970) which now it has been admitted agent orange was used around the perimiter and inside the fenced area which was close to our barricks. Also worked the dearm area which was close to perimeter. To date have had 2 melonomas removed back and leg, squamous cell on upper right shoulder, basal cell on upper left arm, basal cell on upper left shoulder. Siblings have had no such problems nor parents up unyil their death. Recently began thinking may be some connection. How does one prove it?

  29. Melody Eddins says:

    My husband, Jimmy served in Vietnam 1968-69. He has severe Type II DiabeteseEschemic heart disease, neuropathy of the lower extremities, and retinopathy due to his diabetes. For the past year or so, I had been noticing some changes in a couple of moles, one on his back, and one on his right elbow. After the first visit to a dermatologist, he was diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma. I took him back just yesterday, and his back is so puckered with stitches, he can hardly move. His elbow doesn’t look much better either.
    Should he file a claim for the carcinoma? If so, at least he will be one more number.
    Also, I have another issue. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s”s disease in 2011. I was able to continue to work until 2014. I had to take early retirement. I believe I contracted this disease through absorption of agent orange through my husband. I have spoken with many other wives of of VN vets who also have Parkinson’s. My husband is also showing symptoms of Parkinson’s, but hasn’t received a diagnosis as of yet. Should I file a claim for my Parkinson’s, even though it will be denied. I want VA to recognize those spouses who are also suffering from the affects of agent orange. Thank you !

  30. Robert Bandusky says:

    Fellow Veterans: I too, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in Dec 2016 and more recently with Basel cell cancer on my nosed. Both surgacaliy removed and at this writing, I am cancer free. Future PET scans will tell all.
    I served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in loll and lV Corp in 1970-1971 and landed in many defoliated LZs.
    I also filed an Agent Orange claim and asked to provide more research data or Doctor supported reports. I also have no family cancer history. Not denied yet!
    I encourage all involved to contact military rep at your senators or congressman office.
    Good luck with your fight and God Blees you all. Robert Bandusky

  31. Robert Griffin says:

    I have been fighting many types of skin cancers since I have been 31 tears old. Mostly squamous cell, malignant melanoma. I was in Vietnam in 67-68 was a lineman when they used AO to spray around poles and under lines. Have bother that was in Vietnam twice that also has skin cancer and prostate cancer for which he is getting disability. Also have an older brother that was never in Vietnam that has never had skin cancer.
    I have long history with skin cancer and more surgeries then I can count this needs to be looked at by the VA closer. I encourage all RVN Vets to get on the Agent Orange registers at your local VA.

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