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Cap-10

Cancer Research for Flight Crews

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The River Rats Organization has been receiving a lot of calls/e-mails lately regarding fighter aicrew being diagnosed with Cancer in their 40's, some in their 50's.

Lots of findings of Prostate Cancer, but a couple incidents of Testicular and Thyroid...even a few Brain Cancer's.

If you know of ANYONE that is involved with tactical aviation / radar exposure, regardless of their MWS, and they have been diagonsed with Cancer, please have them contact James "Hoser" Paulsen at hoserfa18@mac.com

Hoser is the River Rats National Vice President and is the POC for data collection.

Once the data has been compiled (and depending on what it shows) the River Rats intend to pursue the issue with military officials and the VA, much like what had to be done with the Vietnam / Agent Orange generation.

Max help in distribution of the message is greatly appreciated.

Requesting a little help from a Mod to have this thread pinned for max visability.

Cap-10

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Thanks for this CAP-10. This issue has hit my family. My father flew A-4's, A-7's and F-16's from 68-84. Just passed away after fighting Prostate cancer for 12 years. Diagnosed at 55, passed at 67.

Herc

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How about Bomber, Prowler, and Compass Call guys? Those platforms put out tons of 'trons as well. I've know a couple of bomber guys who've gotten cancer in their late 20s or early 30s.

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This issue has also impact the MC-130/SOF -130 community, several cases of rapid onset brain cancer over the last 6 years. Not an issue until lately as far as I know. Some guys think the time spent at K2 has something to do with it.

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I would say if you know anyone that flys mil air, regardless of MWS, and has exposure to radar/trons and has been diagnosed with any form of cancer, I would encourage you/them to contact "Hoser" Paulsen (see above)...the more data we have, hopefully, the easier our fight will be to get the military/VA on board.

Cap-10

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Below is an update, passed on via request from the River Rats Board:
The River Rats were approached by a former F15C pilot who has noticed an unusually large number of his peers have contracted cancer before the age of 50.
Hoserfa18@mac.com originally sought data to support identification of a correlation between early F-15C pulse doppler radars and Eagle drivers who have contracted cancer. Initial responses indicate many aircraft types also have veteran pilots who have prematurely contracted a variety of medical conditions. The search is now expanding to collect any verifiable information indicative of links between aircraft and locations to pilots who have since contracted unusual or premature medical conditions.
Request the following in unclassified format:
1. Individual Pilot name, medical condition(s), and age at diagnosis('s),
2. Aircraft type, model, radar versions, and timeframe and flight hours flown,
3. Engine and oil types and whether aircraft life support systems were directly connected to either,
4. Breathing air source - LOX, OBOGS, pressurized cockpit, or other,
5. Proximity to suspect weapons, such as depleted uranium rounds, nuke weapons, etc,
6. Locations where stationed and timeframes, and whether those locations were near EW operations, CBR warfare facilities, or similar operations that could be suspect. This includes ships (CV vs. CVN or other ships) and where those ships operated. During suspected CBR ops in ODS or OIF1?
7. Any other information considered pertinent.
If correlations are identified and supported by the requested data, the River Rats will seek multi-service and VA acknowledgement of the findings, and determination of disabilities for those affected. In the interim, the gathered information will not be generally available and will only be shared with those known to the River Rats and whose assistance is required to address the issue.
Formal VA acknowledgment of the clearly obvious effects of Agent Orange only occurred after decades of persistent effort. This issue affects a much smaller cross section of veterans, and receiving any acknowledgement from the individual services and the VA will be a long term undertaking.
VR Hoser
Captain James Paulsen, USN Retired
Vice President, Red River Valley Fighter Pilot Association
CFC River Rat #10510 / AWCF #11450

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Compass Call? Try the Commando Solo guys in Harrisburg, PA. They broadcast TV and radio, and some have been doing it for over 20 years. None of the 4 years and your reassigned stuff. Weird thing is the overwhelming majority have girl offspring. Great group of guys. A friend of mine is in that unit. They're also the only operational guard flying AFSOC unit in the world.

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Compass Call? Try the Commando Solo guys in Harrisburg, PA. They broadcast TV and radio, and some have been doing it for over 20 years. None of the 4 years and your reassigned stuff. Weird thing is the overwhelming majority have girl offspring. Great group of guys. A friend of mine is in that unit. They're also the only operational guard flying AFSOC unit in the world.

You tend to forget about Compass Call, but that "might" be worth looking in to. Esp. if accurate concerning the female offspring part. RF emissions? How do they make it thru an aluminum fuselage? Isn't the manual full of radiation warnings? I know one guy who used to get rid of colds by warming his carcass up in ADA radar beam (do not attempt...closed course). Compass Call should be the first to launch after a "really big" disaster...like Katrina.

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Re: children, there have been limited studies which linked increased proportion of female children in fighter pilots. The best theory being the physiological stresses inherent in tactical aviation (G's, blackout, etc) skew spermatogenesis towards the survival of more X chromosome sperm. I.e, the X chromosome swimmers are generally more robust than the Y chromosome.

Apart from radars and other artificial factors, aircrews are also exposed to much higher levels of radiation simply flying at altitude. More studies are needed, but aircrew generally aren't keen to invite medical researchers into their lives to study them.

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How about Bomber, Prowler, and Compass Call guys? Those platforms put out tons of 'trons as well. I've know a couple of bomber guys who've gotten cancer in their late 20s or early 30s.

Same. Right when I showed up to my squadron, we had an AC who had been diagnosed stomach cancer, and passed away a few months after I had been there. Left behind a wife and newborn daughter.

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Found a related report about exposure to natural cosmic radiation. Though it isn't particularly relavant to military exposure, the tables explaining methods and measurements of exposure could be easily extrapolated if one knew the levels of radiation from a given system/source.

-- http://www.faa.gov/data_research/research/med_humanfacs/oamtechreports/2000s/media/0316.pdf --

-- What Aircrews Should Know About Their Occupational Exposure to Ionizing Radiation --

Highlights:

Aircrews are occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation, principally from galactic cosmic radiation. A main source of galactic cosmic radiation is believed to be supernovae. On infrequent occasions, the sun contributes to the ionizing radiation received during air travel.

Conversion table | 1 sievert = 100 rem | 1 sievert = 1000 millisieverts | 1 rem = 10 millisieverts | 1 millisievert = 1000 microsieverts

The FAA recommended limit for an aircrew member is a 5-year average effective dose of 20 millisieverts per year, with no more than 50 millisieverts in a single year. [...] crewmembers receiving 68 millisieverts will, on average, incur an increased lifetime risk of fatal cancer of about 1 in 360 (0.3%).

Although one cannot exclude the possibility of harm from occupational exposure to radiation at the doses likely to be received during a career of fl ying, it would be impossible to establish that an abnormality or disease in a particular individual resulted from such exposure.

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id be interested in seeing a correlation between the power output and directions of the radars and the cancers contracted distributed by type along with other sources of exposure in their area (ie air bases that are known superfund sites, launch rockets, etc etc).

several of these cancer types are not generally found from exposure to radiation (stomach cancer)

and others could be attributed to pilots distinct lack of love for being open and honest with their docs (getting regular check ups/prostate exams)

also it would be interesting to see the comparison of the River Rats information with commercial pilots both with and without military experience

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Crew Dawg, thanks for sharing the Melanoma article. I had just written a piece on cosmic radiation and had omitted that article since it was so new. Here is the article on Cosmic Radiation (warning, it's long!): http://goflightmedicine.com/cosmic-radiation/

I'd be interested in conducting medical research on U-2 flyers to see if their risk for a variety of cancers exceeds incidence in general population. I know that recent MRI studies have found that they have more white matter lesions, but this is likely due to repeated exposures to relative hypoxia or decompressive states.

Anyone else out there know of any studies on U-2 pilots in regards to radiation exposure and associated clinical outcomes?

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So I was in the Bioenvironmental Engineering (4B) career field for a while and a big part of our job deals with radiation. I find it interesting that personnel exposed to RADAR have increased cancer rates. RADAR uses non-ionizing radiation; meaning that the radiation expelled by radar is essentially the same as the radiation given off by your microwave at home or the radio in your car. As a BEE, I am aware that there are sources of ionizing radiation in many (maybe most) of Air Force aircraft. Is it possible that the increased rates of cancer came from ionizing radiation sources as opposed to those that are non-ionizing? 

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Or the fuel, or the oil, or the altitude, or the chemical makeup of the cockpit....who knows.  I know 3 mid 30's fighter pilots with cancer, one just died.  I shouldn't know 1 much less 3.

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On June 27, 2014 at 6:03 PM, deaddebate said:

Found a related report about exposure to natural cosmic radiation. Though it isn't particularly relavant to military exposure, the tables explaining methods and measurements of exposure could be easily extrapolated if one knew the levels of radiation from a given system/source.

-- http://www.faa.gov/data_research/research/med_humanfacs/oamtechreports/2000s/media/0316.pdf --

-- What Aircrews Should Know About Their Occupational Exposure to Ionizing Radiation --

Highlights:

Aircrews are occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation, principally from galactic cosmic radiation. A main source of galactic cosmic radiation is believed to be supernovae. On infrequent occasions, the sun contributes to the ionizing radiation received during air travel.

Conversion table | 1 sievert = 100 rem | 1 sievert = 1000 millisieverts | 1 rem = 10 millisieverts | 1 millisievert = 1000 microsieverts

The FAA recommended limit for an aircrew member is a 5-year average effective dose of 20 millisieverts per year, with no more than 50 millisieverts in a single year. [...] crewmembers receiving 68 millisieverts will, on average, incur an increased lifetime risk of fatal cancer of about 1 in 360 (0.3%).

Although one cannot exclude the possibility of harm from occupational exposure to radiation at the doses likely to be received during a career of fl ying, it would be impossible to establish that an abnormality or disease in a particular individual resulted from such exposure.

I quoted it all just to get your attention, sorry.  Why don't the docs do a cancer screen during our yearly flight physicals?  CEA test couldn't be that expensive.

Edited by matmacwc

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@stuckindayton

Good question.  From my five minutes of Google, I'll defer to stuckindayton.  It appears the test is not very valuable in screening for cancer, but better at gauging effectiveness of a treatment course once cancer has been identified by other means.  Whether another cancer screening exam or test is worthwhile based on military pilots potentially higher radiation exposure is a question for smarter people.

A starting point may be the USAFSAM Epidemiology Consult Service at WPAFB.  I could maybe PM you their contact info.

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15 hours ago, deaddebate said:

@stuckindayton

Good question.  From my five minutes of Google, I'll defer to stuckindayton.  It appears the test is not very valuable in screening for cancer, but better at gauging effectiveness of a treatment course once cancer has been identified by other means.  Whether another cancer screening exam or test is worthwhile based on military pilots potentially higher radiation exposure is a question for smarter people.

A starting point may be the USAFSAM Epidemiology Consult Service at WPAFB.  I could maybe PM you their contact info.

Thanks for the offer deaddebate, but this one is out of my lane.  I stick with eyeballs and vision.

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I was in Navy from 1974 - 1984.  I flew on P3-B Orion Aircraft for about 8 years as an in flight avionics tech.  I spent many hours working on APS80 radar systems during that time and logged over 2500 hours of flight time, and God only knows how many hours working on those aircraft on the ground.  In 2011 I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer and had my thyroid removed.  I must now take Synthroid every day.

I'm curious if your investigation went anywhere with this issue.

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On 6/19/2017 at 9:48 PM, P3-B IFT said:

I was in Navy from 1974 - 1984.  I flew on P3-B Orion Aircraft for about 8 years as an in flight avionics tech.  I spent many hours working on APS80 radar systems during that time and logged over 2500 hours of flight time, and God only knows how many hours working on those aircraft on the ground.  In 2011 I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer and had my thyroid removed.  I must now take Synthroid every day.

I'm curious if your investigation went anywhere with this issue.

I know quite a bit about this issue, more to come on it in a week or so.  You would have to trace the cancer back to active duty, and the genesis of the cancer to active duty.  They will not approve a connection because it was so long ago, you would have to say you had thyroid cancer in 1984 and it showed up in 2011, no doctor would sign off on that.

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Not sure if this still a discussion but my husband was diagnosed with GBM, brain cancer, in 2008 at the age of 39.  He was active duty from 1990-2001.  During that time he flew the B-52 and then finished out in the T-37.  He went on to fly for the airlines until he became sick. He is still here but dealing with deficits.  Tried to get some support form the VA but since he separated and it is not considered service related, he is at the bottom of the list.  We are very fortunate that he worked for a great company with an awesome union.  Has an link been shown?  He was an extremely healthy guy prior to diagnosis.  

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