Following the recent establishment of presumptive service connection for asthma, sinusitis and rhinitis due to presumed exposure to particulate matter during the Gulf War, the VA turned its focus on rare respiratory cancers. After extensive study of rare respiratory cancers and particulate matter exposure, the VA issued an interim final rule effective April 26, 2022 expanding the list of Gulf War presumptive conditions to include the following:
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the trachea
- Adenocarcinoma of the trachea
- Salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea
- Adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung
- Large cell carcinoma of the lung
- Salivary gland-type tumors of the lung
- Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung
- Typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung
The rule applies to any claim for service-connection of one of the listed conditions received by the VA on or after April 26, 2022 as well as those pending before the VA, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, or the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as of the effective date of the rule.
Any veteran who has been diagnosed with one of the rare cancers is eligible to file for service-connected disability benefits provided they served during the Gulf War (which currently has no prescribed end date) as noted below:
- Southwest Asia theater of operations – August 2, 1990 to present
- Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria or Djibouti – September 19, 2001 to present
- Service in the Gulf War, Iraq War, War in Afghanistan
The latency period between particulate matter exposure and manifestation of these type of cancers is uncertain and potentially lengthy in nature. Individuals might experience difficulty obtaining a diagnosis and treatment for any of these rare cancers. In fact, VA recognized that these respiratory cancers are so rare as to remain undiagnosed until the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body. Accordingly, VA will presume that the listed cancers are service connected if manifested to any degree, including non-compensable, at any time following separation from a qualifying period of military service.
Avard Law Offices is available to assist veterans with service-connected disability claims.
 The rule, as published in the Federal Register, can be located at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-04-26/pdf/2022-08820.pdf.