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Why Second Opinions And Yearly Screenings Are Critical To Veterans Health


Toxic exposure is a little-known risk factor for lung cancer. Because of this, many military veterans are initially misdiagnosed.

According to the Environmental Litigation Group, P.C., this implies dangerous consequences. Veterans might believe they are healthy when their lives are actually hanging by a thread.

One of the reasons why doctors overlook the possibility of veterans having lung cancer is because the symptoms of the disease overlap those of more common ones. Symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and fatigue may be misattributed to pneumonia. 

Symptoms of lung cancer are shared by other more common diseases.
Symptoms of lung cancer are shared by other more common diseases.

This is why a second opinion and yearly screenings for lung cancer can benefit veterans who are at risk. Veterans can request these from their healthcare provider or from the VA.

Finding lung cancer when the disease has not spread to other parts of the body can increase the life expectancy of veterans by up to 10 years, the Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. reports. Periodical screening is also crucial as lung cancer can be asymptomatic. 

Lung cancer can be asymptomatic.
Lung cancer can be asymptomatic.

“Unlike some other cancers, lung cancer usually has no noticeable symptoms until it’s in an advanced stage,” reports The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at John Hopkins Medicine. “When the tumor grows large enough to press against other organs it causes pain and discomfort. Sometimes, there are earlier warning signs that are a signal to call the doctor.”

The VA diagnoses 7,700 Veterans with lung cancer every year, maintaining that the highest risk patients include those with a history of smoking, who are older, and who have been exposed to environmental hazards during or after military service.

Veterans who have been exposed to environmental hazards have a greater risk of developing lung cancer.
Veterans who have been exposed to environmental hazards have a greater risk of developing lung cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, the likelihood of survival goes up and patients have a better patient quality of life when they have access to quality healthcare, and the VA is working to ensure access to early detection and treatment for Veterans with lung cancer.

Through the the Heroes and Sacrifices campaign, veterans with cancer and their families can receive gift baskets filled with a wide range of useful objects, from cooked food and fresh vegetables to fuzzy socks and books. The primary mission of the campaign is to raise awareness of toxic exposure as a cause of cancer in veterans and also to lend a helping hand to these brave and amazing people who have to battle cancer. During the last century, military members have been exposed to dozens of hazardous agents, such as mustard gas, Agent Orange, radiation, and asbestos, all of which have a connection with cancer, particularly lung cancer. So far, the people behind the Heroes and Sacrifices campaign have delivered over 200 gift baskets to sick veterans across the country.

“When I was approached by the nurse who is usually giving me chemotherapy in the waiting room, holding a huge basket in her hands and telling me it’s for me, I was speechless. It was full of great things like a new set of pajamas and many personal care products that I always need, so I am very thankful to the people who planned this,” says Alfred, a 67-year-old Vietnam War veteran who struggles with lung cancer.

The likelihood of survival goes up and patients have a better patient quality of life when they have access to quality healthcare.
The likelihood of survival goes up and patients have a better patient quality of life when they have access to quality healthcare.

Although veterans with lung cancer are the people the Heroes and Sacrifices campaign targets, as this disease is often the consequence of toxic exposure, veterans who have any other cancer and those with the following diagnoses can also request a gift basket:

  • pleural mesothelioma
  • emphysema
  • chronic bronchitis
  • pulmonary fibrosis
  • asbestosis
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • diffuse pleural thickening
  • rounded atelectasis

“I was returning home after a very exhausting day of running errands, and what was waiting for me in front of the door was this beautifully arranged gift basket. I took it inside, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of nice and useful items, including a very comfy blanket I’ll never stop using. Only several hours later, I found out that my daughter wanted to make me a surprise and requested it through the Heroes and Sacrifices campaign,” says Roland, a 76-year-old Korean War veteran with bladder cancer.

Veterans are urged to get screened for lung cancer early.
Veterans are urged to get screened for lung cancer early.

Veterans, family members who want to receive a free gift basket can visit https://www.elglaw.com/kindness/, fill out the form at the bottom of the page and a member team will be in touch to set up the details.

You can also buy a gift basket from GreaterGood to deliver to someone in your community. Every purchase of one of these gift baskets provides an extra donation that goes to support veterans’ causes.



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