Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is one of two cancers of the lymphatic system, along with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It is the more common of the two and is characterized by the unchecked reproduction of abnormal lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, which builds up in your lymph nodes causing swelling and the growth of tumors. Many forms of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma exist, and there are a number of possible causes, but advances in diagnosis and treatment have led to higher recovery rates.
VA automatically presumes a service connection for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma to veterans exposed to Agent Orange, meaning that for those who are eligible, no service connection needs to be proved.
Importance to Vietnam Era Veterans
Since service connection for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is presumed for veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, it’s relatively easy for eligible veterans to receive compensation and healthcare. Moreover, the VA extends this presumption of service connection to members of the Blue Water Navy operating in the waters outside Vietnam, whereas it prioritizes ground troops in cases of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Agent Orange is linked to a number of disorders, so veterans diagnosed with lymphoma, whether Hodgkin’s or Non-Hodgkin’s, won’t be responsible for proving a connection. Vietnam Era veterans who served on the ground, on airbases, or at sea during the Vietnam War Era, as well as those who served near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) during the same period, may very well have been exposed, and depending on other risk factors, are more likely than most to suffer from Lymphoma. Surviving spouses and dependents may also eligible to receive disability compensation.
Both types of Lymphoma are granted the same rating, though under different sections of the Federal Register. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is listed under diagnostic code 7715, and grants a 100% rating when there is active disease and during the treatment phase. This rating continues until 2 years after treatment has ended, and will be reassessed following a mandatory VA examination.
Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma may be caused by a number of things, including a weakened immune system (which may be caused by immunosuppressive therapy or drugs), viruses like HIV or Epstein-Barr infection, bacterial infection, exposure to chemicals (where we get the link to Agent Orange), or simply older age. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma may start in your antibody-producing B cells, or in your T cells, which directly attack foreign invaders in your body.
Symptoms are Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma include swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin, abdominal pain and swelling, chest pain, coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. Veterans with these symptoms should schedule a physical exam with their doctor immediately, followed by blood and urine tests, imaging tests, and biopsies to establish a proper diagnosis.
In cases of indolent lymphoma, or slow-growing lymphoma, your doctor may not even recommend treatment, and instead, monitor your condition to see if it grows more serious. However, when treatment is necessary, common treatment approaches include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, bone marrow transplant, or some version of drug therapy.
Assistance with Your Claim
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a serious condition which can require immediate treatment and regular monitoring, and eligible veterans will want to take advantage of VA disability benefits to cover their costs. VA does expedite the claims process for lymphoma by presuming a service connection for certain veterans, but that doesn’t always mean you’ll get approved. If you need help with your claim or need to file an appeal, VA Disability Group PLLC is on hand to do the heavy lifting. Call us at 844-VET-LAWS or fill out our online form to get the process rolling on your new claim now.