Younger Women Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Eligible for Breast Cancer Screening

PHOENIX (August 1, 2023) – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is recommending that women Veterans under 40 years of age who served near burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq get free VA breast cancer screening.

The breast cancer risk assessments are encouraged for younger women Veterans, including mammograms, through the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act. Dr. Thomas was a Marine Corps Veteran who served in Iraq near burn pits and later contracted breast cancer from her service, dying at 42.

Expanded access to breast cancer screening is part of VA’s effort to encourage assessments for younger women Veterans who served where burn pits and other toxins were present.

No direct link has been established between burn pit toxins and breast cancer, but VA is concerned about potential cases and continues to perform screenings and examine data. The assessments now available to younger women Veterans were already available for those over 40. This expanded eligibility also includes transgender women who have been on hormone therapy for more than five years, and transgender men who still have breasts.

To learn more about expanded breast cancer screening for younger women Veterans, read this recent VA News item encouraging assessments.