My husband Tom was never in Vietnam so we know that he did not contract Cholangiocarcinoma there. However, he was stationed in Germany in the motor pool. He has put in a claim to the VA for service connected disability based on his exposure to Chromium 6, a PCB, which has been proved to cause liver cancer. The VA used green army paint which contained Chromium 6 and just recently in about 2006 switched their paint to a paint that contains Chromium 3 which is safer that Chromium 6 based paint.
We do not have an answer to his VA claim as of yet, but just recently had to travel to Milwaukee and meet with a 'independent' doctor hired by the VA to go over the claim and make a decision. I have read a lot of the denials on the VA website, which posts all the claims and the decisions. The one common theme that I did pick up on was that most (if not all) the claims for service connection have been filed by the widows of the Veteran, not by the actual Veteran. In Tom's case, he is the actual Veteran filing the claim and hopefully that will have some bearing on the decision.
We plan to appeal if it is turned down becuase there is NO HISTORY of anyone in his family ever having cancer. If the VA can give service connected disablity for type 2 diabetes, they really need to be looking at all the Veterans who are coming down with Cholangiocarcinoma and start recognizing this disease as service connected, whether it comes from the Rice Paddies, the fish, the water in Asia, or from PCB's such as Chromium 6. I have heard from other Veterans that have fought to get service connected disabilities that sometimes you have to appeal it three and four times before they will approve it.
The funniest part of all the paperwork that has to be filled out is the question "Did you have any symptoms when you left the service". Of course not because exposure to the Aisan Fish Fluke or exposure to PCB's that cause cancer can take 40 to 60 years to manifest itself and start causing problems.
All the literature that we sent along with Tom's VA claim showed those stats over and over again. It does not, however, seem to matter to the VA, since there was no evidence of the Cholangiocarcinoma when the Veteran 'left the service' that seems to be the one theme that they are using to deny these claims. I feel that if the actual Veteran's start putting in these claims (while they are still alive) that some of the rulings would turn out differently. However, in some instances, like Darla's husband Jim, there simply isn't enough time between diagnosis and the death of the Veteran to even begin to file for a service connection! As unfortunate as that is, the widows of these Veterans need to continue to appeal and appeal again if necessary.
I also believe that there are many, many people who belive that Cholangioncarcinoma is ONLY caused by the Asian Liver Fluke, and that is incorrect. PCB's and exposure to them also causes Cholangiocarcinoma.
Go with God and KEEP KICKIN' THAT cancer.
Margaret (My husband and Cholangiocarcinoma)