Bladder cancer occurs when the cells in your bladder develop mutations in their DNA and begin to multiply until they form a tumor. The cancer can then metastasize, or spread, to other parts of your body. For veterans who have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, it is important to note that it can be found on the list of presumptive conditions linked to toxic exposure from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at U.S. Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Background on Camp Lejeune Toxic Exposure
Service members and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s may have been exposed to toxins like trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride. These toxins were improperly stored and disposed on and nearby the base, infiltrating the local water supply.
Veterans who have been diagnosed with bladder cancer and were on active duty for a period of no fewer than 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 may be eligible for additional healthcare benefits and compensation from VA. VA has also established a list of presumptive conditions so that veterans with certain diagnoses do not need to provide a medical nexus linking an active diagnosis to their service record. Some healthcare benefits also extend to affected family members of service members. For more information on Camp Lejeune, you can read our blogs on TCE exposure benefits, and Camp Lejeune leukemia and aplastic anemia cases.
Bladder Cancer Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatment
Bladder cancer usually refers to urothelial carcinoma, which is a cancer of the urothelial cells on the inside lining of the bladder. These cells are found in the kidneys and ureters, too, but cancer commonly forms in the bladder. Other rare forms of bladder cancer include squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, both of which affect different types of cells. Other forms of bladder cancer may affect more than one type of cell.
Risk factors for bladder cancer include smoking, increased age, previous cancer treatment, chromic blood inflammation, and family history of cancer. It’s more common in males, and it’s also linked to exposure to certain chemicals like those found at Camp Lejeune. Ways to decrease your risk are to avoid smoking and to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
Symptoms of bladder cancer include hematuria (blood in the urine), frequent urination, painful urination, and back pain or pelvic pain. Sometimes blood in your urine isn’t detectable by sight and may be picked up by lab tests.
Bladder cancer is usually found in its early stages and is highly treatable. Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.
VA Disability Ratings for Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer is covered under diagnostic code 7528, under § 4.115b the Federal Register, which covers ratings for conditions of the genitourinary system. Veterans who have diagnoses of cancer or are in a period of post-treatment convalescence are granted a temporary and total 100% disability rating. According to VA, “following the cessation of surgical, X-ray, antineoplastic chemotherapy or other therapeutic procedure,” the 100% rating remains in effect, to be followed up by a C&P exam six months later. Following treatment, your rating will be determined by any residuals of your condition, such as voiding dysfunction or renal dysfunction.
Assistance With Your Claim
The Camp Lejeune Act of 2012 and the Honoring Our Pact Act of 2022 have increased the benefits available to veterans and affected family members. Because of this, veterans are more eager than ever to collect the compensation due to them. And if family members have been affected, it also requires filling out a separate form: VA Form 10-10068: Camp Lejeune Family Member Program Application.
For assistance with your claim, and to ensure that you are awarded all of the benefits that are due to you, you can contact VA Disability Group PLLC at 844-VET-LAWS.