The sixth most common cancer in the U.S. is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), and it begins with your lymphatic system—part of your immune system that fights off infection and filters out viruses and bacteria. Tumors develop from a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. It is estimated that in 2015, over 70,000 patients will be diagnosed with NHL, and over 19,000 will die from this disease.

Many veterans who served in Vietnam were exposed to Agent Orange—a herbicide used during Operation Ranch Hand by the U.S. military to clear vegetation, destroy crops, and remove forest cover from around U.S. bases. Agent Orange contained dioxinNon-Hodgkins Disease Spelled out With Colored Letters —a hazardous chemical contaminant that is now linked to cancers, birth defects, diabetes, and other types of disabilities. Since 2003, many specific cancers are believed to be caused by this chemical, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

If you were exposed to Agent Orange during your military service and have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, you’re eligible for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Signs and Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Depending on where the tumor is growing in the body, the signs and symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can vary. It’s possible for a patient to not have any symptoms until the tumor is large. Here are some common symptoms to watch for:

  • You have pressure or pain in your chest
  • You are anemic (low red blood cell count)
  • You have swollen lymph nodes in your stomach, groin, neck, or underarm
  • Your abdomen is swollen
  • You feel full after eating a small portion of food
  • You have a cough or shortness of breath
  • You have lost weight
  • You experience night sweats
  • You experience extreme fatigue
  • You have a fever for no apparent reason
  • You develop an itchy skin rash

If you’re a veteran and your military service exposed you to Agent Orange, you may have symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or been diagnosed with this disease. Contact us at 402-933-5405 to discuss your situation. We can help determine if you’re eligible for VA Disability benefits.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska