Tulsa veteran’s prostate cancer stemmed from Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam

TULSA, Okla. — A Vietnam veteran and Tulsa Public School Board member is battling cancer after recently discovering what may have led to his diagnosis.

Doctors diagnosed Dr. Jerry Griffin with prostate cancer in the spring which led experts to believe he’d been exposed to the dangerous chemical Agent Orange.

The Department of Veterans Affairs presumes Griffin was exposed to the chemical in the 1960s when he served as a marine in the Vietnam War.

In Vietnam, U.S. military forces used the toxic herbicide Agent Orange to decimate jungles and eliminate enemy cover.

An OSU toxicology professor told FOX23 that Agent Orange contains a dangerous dioxin that’s toxic and can cause many different types of cancer -- including prostate cancer.

The VA is paying for Griffin’s cancer treatment, but for several years after the war, the VA would not admit that spraying Agent Orange had put veterans at risk. Veterans suing and fighting eventually led to the VA recognizing the connection between some Vietnam veterans' medical issues and Agent Orange.

Some veterans who trained at certain military bases may have also been exposed to the chemical as the VA admitted they tested it on some bases including Fort Chaffee in Arkansas.

MORE >>> Learn more about veterans and prostate cancer

The VA links 14 medical conditions to Agent Orange:

  • AL Amyloidosis
  • Chronic B-cell Leukemias
  • Chloracne
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
  • Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Ischemic Heart Disease
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Peripheral Neuropathy, Early- Onset
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Respiratory Cancers
  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas

They’ve also considered adding medical conditions including bladder cancer, hypertension, hyperthyroidism and Parkinson’s-like syndromes.

A decision on adding those to the list of medical conditions was supposed to be made in June 2019 but the VA missed the deadline. A proposed bill would add those conditions to the list.

Griffin says his doctors believe the radiation treatment for his prostate cancer is working and he’ll be going back in December for a checkup.

He’s encouraging all men and especially Vietnam veterans to get screened for prostate cancer every year.

MORE >>> Prostate Cancer and Agent Orange

The American Cancer Society recommends men who are 50 years old or older on average to be screened for prostate cancer.

As part of the yearly exam, men can ask their doctors for a blood test to look at their “Prostate-Specific Antigen” which many doctors recommend tests for if it falls between 2.5 and 10.

Learn more about PSA numbers here