A Veteran’s Perspective on Cancer Management

November 10, 2021
US Marine Veteran, John Dvor, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at miR Scientific

US Marine Veteran, John Dvor, Executive Vice President of​ Corporate Development at miR Scientific, shares his experience of military service and outlines the unique factors that lead to increased risk of prostate cancer among veterans.

As a service member, you are always thinking about a cause greater than yourself to devote to wholeheartedly, with great enthusiasm. It’s time to channel this devotion to your health. 

On 1919, President Wilson addressed the American citizenry on November 11th, a day which is now recognized in the US as Veterans Day. Americans continue to honor the sacrifice of those who serve their country. The 19 million military veterans in the US are an extremely diverse population. Whatever their background, a challenging topic for veterans to address is how to find meaning and purpose in the civilian sector. It is not an easy task, especially when the vast majority of Americans are non-veterans, to translate your military service into a civilian career.

Speaking from my own experience, the esprit de corps and camaraderie I experienced in the US Marine Corps were a defining milestone in my life. 

My service was primarily focused on the operations in the White House Military Office, so I was frequently traveling nationally and globally to support the Office of the President and related agencies. I was privileged to work in a role that bridged special operations and diplomacy during my service, exposing me to a wide range of countries, cultures and organizations.

In the early 2000s, my career was propelled into healthcare and life sciences. I benefitted enormously, working as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, and venture capitalist in healthcare innovation.  However, I never had a chance to work in oncology until I joined miR Scientific.

Veterans and Cancer Management 

On this Veterans Day, I am thankful for the opportunity to be a team member at miR Scientific. Cancer management is of interest for all populations, but service members have unique risk factors:

Veterans have Higher Cancer Risk

It is well-established through peer-reviewed medical studies that veterans are at a higher risk for cancer incidence than the general population. Of all cancers, prostate cancer is the most diagnosed for veterans.  This is a crisis which all men should be aware of, but veterans, in particular, should be aware of their risk and the opportunities for non-invasive detection of cancer, such as the technologies we are working to build at miR Scientific.

Easy to Avoid Screening

When you serve in the military, you think you are invincible. There is a mentality that nothing can stop you.  As a veteran, it’s easy to avoid routine preventative care.  This is only exacerbated by the fact that many archaic cancer diagnostic technologies are highly invasive in some of the most private parts of the body. This can be threatening to a man’s machismo to agree to needle biopsies probing deep into the body.  Furthermore, you may subject yourself to numerous morbidities or worse. So, inevitably, many men refuse to get screened for cancer risk, such as for prostate cancer.  This is a serious problem, as once prostate cancer does become metastatic, it is highly deadly.

Lifestyle is Not Always Relevant

For individuals not working in healthcare, it’s easy to assume that people who appear physically fit are in great health. Yet cancer management turns this logic upside down. While exposure to toxic chemicals and other harmful activities can increase cancer risk, there are other risk factors, such as genetic history. Many veterans who appear to have a strong constitution, may mistakenly believe cancer screening is unnecessary.

Overall, veterans, and their family members, should be aware of their increased cancer risk. They should seek out the best technologies to protect themselves. I am proud that at miR Scientific, our special mission is to build breakthrough medical technologies and make them available to patients globally.  

I will conclude with a quote from General Mattis: “Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.”  For cancer management, this means review all of the possible options to detect cancer early, before you let your machismo dominate your decision-making, as too often is the case for military veterans.  Engage with the best scientific solutions to protect yourself and your family.

1 ‘Cancer Incidence Among Patients of the U.S. Veterans Affairs Health Care System: 2010 Update. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28810986/

2 VA stands with Veterans to reduce racial disparities in prostate cancer screenings https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/85275/va-prostate-cancer-screenings/

3 https://www.politico.com/blogs/donald-trump-administration/2016/12/james-mattis-quotes-232097

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