What Are Soft Tissue Sarcomas?
Soft tissue sarcomas are a group of cancers that originate in “soft” body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues. These tumors are relatively rare and often have no symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms typically begin to present as the tumor grows, with the first sign being a painless lump or swelling. These growths may become painful over time and may begin to present in other areas of the body if the cancer has metastasized. Please see your doctor if you notice any new lumps on the surface of your body or in your muscles. As with all cancers, early detection is crucial for treatment.
While most causes of soft tissue sarcomas remain largely unknown, Agent Orange is one widely recognized environmental factor that contributes to the development of soft tissue sarcomas. Several scientific studies conducted since the 1990’s have found that Agent Orange exposure causes a variety of health conditions, including several types of cancer. In response to these studies, the VA developed regulations granting presumptive service connection to veterans with those conditions who can prove that they served in an area of presumptive exposure while in the military. However, presumptive service connection does not extend to all types of soft tissue sarcoma. Specifically, the VA does not presume that Agent Orange exposure causes the following soft tissue sarcomas: osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma or mesothelioma.
How The VA Rates Soft Tissue Sarcomas
Under 38 CFR § 4.73 and 38 CFR § 4.104, the VA rates soft tissue sarcomas as follows:
Diagnostic Code 5329
- Sarcoma, soft tissue (of muscle, fat, or fibrous connective tissue) – 100
Diagnostic Code 7123
- Soft tissue sarcoma (of vascular origin) – 100
A rating of 100 percent will continue for six months beyond the end of any surgery, radiation, or other treatment procedures for the condition. At that time, the VA will conduct a Compensation and Pension exam to assess the severity of the veteran’s condition and will determine the appropriate schedular disability rating following that examination. If the VA finds that there has been no recurrence or metastasis of the soft tissue sarcoma, the decision officer for the veteran’s claim will rate the condition based on residual impairments of function that result from the condition itself or from treatment for the condition.
Help With Your VA Claim For Soft Tissue Sarcomas
If you are veteran who has been recently diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma and would like to apply for VA disability benefits, or you are currently fighting to get presumptive service connection for your condition based on Agent Orange exposure, please contact our office today. Our veterans disability lawyers are experienced in getting veterans who have Agent Orange related illnesses service connection for their conditions and can help you get the compensation you are entitled to.