While Agent Orange, an herbicide used during the Vietnam War, has been previously linked to a variety of types of cancers in Vietnam veterans, new data from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Shreveport, LA, indicates that there may be a connection between veterans’ in-country exposure and subsequent development of renal cancer.
Findings from the VA study were presented to reporters during an AUA press conference yesterday.
Researchers at the Overton Brooks VAMC in Shreveport examined charts for 297 patients diagnosed with renal cancer between 1987 and 2009. Of these patients, 13 (4%), ranging in age from 39 to 63 years at time of presentation, claimed exposure to Agent Orange. Eleven of the patients underwent surgical treatment. The study authors reviewed age at presentation, tumor size, side of lesion, pathology, and survival in the 10 patients with documented exposure to Agent Orange for which pathology reports were available.
Of these patients, 90% had clear-cell cancers, which typically have a worse prognosis than papillary tumors, which appeared in only one of the patients. One patient had combined clear-cell and papillary cancers. Node sampling was negative in all. Mean follow-up was 54 months. Four patients developed metastatic disease, and one patient died from his cancer.
"Further data is being collected from other VA medical centers to further investigate if there is a link between renal cell cancer and Agent Orange exposure," according to the authors, led by Philip A Haddad, MD.
"We know that chemicals in Agent Orange were extremely toxic, and are known to cause cancer," said Anthony Y. Smith, MD, chair of the AUA Public Media Committee. "These data indicate that we may need to better determine whether exposure to these chemicals should be considered a risk factor for kidney cancer."