Parasite Found in Vietnam Vets Can Cause Long-Term Pain and Death

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Parasite Found in Vietnam Vets Can Cause Long-Term Pain and Death
t’s a silent killer, a rare cancer caused by a parasite that’s usually detected far too late for any kind of treatment. By the time it’s discovered, it often leads to a painful death in just a few short months.

And, for Vietnam veterans, far too many of them have to face it over 40 years after leaving Southeast Asia. Even worse, the VA often refuses to cover claims for it.

According to The Associated Press, the disease is called cholangiocarcinoma, a rare type of bile duct cancer usually detected only in its final stages.
One of the major risk factors is infection by liver flukes, a parasite acquired by eating undercooked fish.

The parasite is prevalent in Asia, where over 25 million people are affected by them. In the United States, however, they’re not as well-known.

Parasite Found in Vietnam Vets Can Cause Long-Term Pain and Death

It’s a silent killer, a rare cancer caused by a parasite that’s usually detected far too late for any kind of treatment. By the time it’s discovered, it often leads to a painful death in just a few short months.

And, for Vietnam veterans, far too many of them have to face it over 40 years after leaving Southeast Asia. Even worse, the VA often refuses to cover claims for it.

According to The Associated Press, the disease is called cholangiocarcinoma, a rare type of bile duct cancer usually detected only in its final stages.

 

One of the major risk factors is infection by liver flukes, a parasite acquired by eating undercooked fish.

The parasite is prevalent in Asia, where over 25 million people are affected by them. In the United States, however, they’re not as well-known.

While a few pills can wipe out liver flukes if the infection is caught early, the parasite can go undetected, often with the host feeling just fine for decades.

However, while veterans might feel fine, a dangerous biological reaction is going on inside their bodies. What happens is that the body tries to sequester the leaf-like liver flukes by walling them off. This reaction, however, causes scarring and inflammation to internal organs — a risk factor for cancer over time.
By the time cholangiocarcinoma is discovered, the disease is often painful and in its final stages, with no curative options available to the patient.

Even though a link between Vietnam service and liver flukes/cholangiocarcinoma is likely there, the VA can often deny claims.

“The U.S. government acknowledges that liver flukes, endemic in the steamy jungles of Vietnam, are likely killing some former soldiers,” the AP reported. “Ralph Erickson, who heads post-deployment health services at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said about 700 cholangiocarcinoma patients have passed through the agency’s medical system in the past 15 years.”

Of those 700, less than 50 percent submitted benefits claims to Veterans’ Affairs, something it was speculated was due to a lack of awareness regarding the link between Vietnam service and cholangiocarcinoma. Of those that did, 80 percent had their claims rejected in a process The Associated Press said “often appeared to be haphazard or contradictory.”

“The VA requires veterans to show medical conditions are at least ‘as likely as not’ related to their time in service to receive financial help, but doctors note that often isn’t easy with bile duct cancer caused by liver flukes,” the AP reported.

Mike Baughman, a 65-year-old veteran, was finally granted benefits for cholangiocarcinoma earlier this year after three previous attempts; his doctor wrote a letter to the VA saying that his cancer was “more likely than not” caused by the parasites. He’ll now get $3,100 a month that will continue to go to his wife after his death.

Personally, I got what I needed, but if you look at the bigger picture with all these other veterans, they don’t know what necessarily to do,” Baughman said. “None of them have even heard of it before. A lot of them give me that blank stare like, ‘You’ve got what?”’

If you’re concerned, speak to your doctor about tests. Even though the government has not yet recommended it for Vietnam vets, an ultrasound can help detect inflammation that could be caused by liver flukes — and the earlier it’s detected, the better your odds are.

Source : TRIBUNIST

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