What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a cancer that occurs in the prostate. The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland in males that produces some of the fluids contained in semen, the liquid that transports sperm. Many prostate cancers grow slowly and remain confined to the prostate, where they don’t cause serious problems. However, some prostate cancers are fast growing and can spread quickly if left untreated.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. When doctors detect it early on, while it is still confined to the prostate gland, the individual with prostate cancer has the best chance for successful treatment. Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages, which is why the American Cancer Society (ACA) recommends that all men who are of average risk for prostate cancer get yearly prostate screenings starting at age 50. For men who are at high risk for developing prostate cancer, the ACA recommends starting yearly screenings at age 45. Symptoms to watch out for in the more advanced stages of prostate cancer are:
- Trouble urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Bone pain
- Blood in the semen
- Decreased force in stream of urine
- Erectile dysfunction
- Unexplained weight loss
For veterans, the risk of developing prostate cancer is particularly high. On average, one in five male veterans will develop prostate cancer during their lifetime, as compared to one in nine of the general American male population. A number of different factors influence this increased risk among veterans. First, the U.S. has an aging veterans population, and age is one of the major contributors to the development of prostate cancer. Additionally, exposure to herbicides, such as Agent Orange, during a veteran’s service increases his or her risk of developing cancer. On top of that, an unhealthy diet and irregular physical activity, both of which are major secondary symptoms to the mental health conditions that commonly affect veterans (i.e. PTSD, MDD, Anxiety), can increase one’s risk of developing prostate cancer.
Getting Service Connected For Prostate Cancer
For veterans with prostate cancer, the most crucial evidence they can provide to the VA to support their claim for service connection is medical records. These records should hopefully demonstrate that (1) the veteran’s prostate cancer is the direct result of some exposure in service (such as to an herbicide like Agent Orange) or (2) the veteran’s prostate cancer is due to a different service connected impairment (like PTSD) that made the veteran predisposed to develop prostate cancer as a result of the original impairment’s symptoms (e.g. lethargy, disinterest in exercise or eating healthy, etc.).
How The VA Rates Prostate Cancer
Under 38 CFR § 4.115b, the VA rates prostate cancer under the disability rating schedule for either a malignant tumor (neoplasm) or a benign tumor of the genitourinary system. If the prostate cancer is benign (not active), the VA rates the condition based on the residual conditions caused by the tumor. The residual conditions that warrant a VA schedular disability rating for benign prostate cancer include renal dysfunction and voiding dysfunction, both of which can result in serious impairment.
Diagnostic Code 7528
- 100 – Malignant neoplasms of the genitourinary system
- Following the cessation of surgical, X-ray, antineoplastic chemotherapy or other therapeutic procedure, the rating of 100 percent shall continue with a mandatory VA examination at the expiration of six months. Any change in evaluation based upon that or any subsequent examination shall be subject to the provisions of § 3.105(e) of this chapter. If there has been no local reoccurrence or metastasis, rate on residuals as voiding dysfunction or renal dysfunction, whichever is predominant.
Diagnostic code 7529: Benign neoplasms of the genitourinary system
- Rate as voiding dysfunction or renal dysfunction, whichever is predominant:
- 100 – Requiring regular dialysis, or precluding more than sedentary activity from one of the following: persistent edema and albuminuria; or, BUN more than 80mg%; or, creatinine more than 8mg%; or, markedly decreased function of kidney or other organ systems, especially cardiovascular
- 80 – Persistent edema and albuminuria with BUN 40 to 80mg%; or, creatinine 4 to 8mg%; or, generalized poor health characterized by lethargy, weakness, anorexia, weight loss, or limitation of exertion
- 60 – Constant albuminuria with some edema; or, definite decrease in kidney function; or, hypertension at least 40 percent disabling under diagnostic code 7101
- 30 – Albumin constant or recurring with hyaline and granular casts or red blood cells; or, transient or slight edema or hypertension at least 10 percent disabling under diagnostic code 7101
- 0 – Albumin and casts with history of acute nephritis; or, hypertension non-compensable under diagnostic code 7101
Voiding dysfunction: Continual Urine Leakage, Post Surgical Urinary Diversion, Urinary Incontinence, or Stress Incontinence:
- 60 – Requiring the use of an appliance or the wearing of absorbent materials which must be changed more than 4 times per day
- 40 – Requiring the wearing of absorbent materials which must be changed 2 to 4 times per day
- 20 – Requiring the wearing of absorbent materials which must be changed less than 2 times per day
Help With Your Prostate Cancer VA Claim
If you are a veteran with prostate cancer and are looking for assistance in securing service connection for your condition, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 800-448-5423. Our experienced veterans law attorneys are ready to assist you in getting the compensation you are entitled to.