Third Class Medical
Answered By AOPA
I am currently undergoing chemotherapy for Pancreatic Cancer (Adenocarcinoma).  As part of my regimen, I receive steroids, nausea medication and the chemo.  I do not take Benadryl.  I will be finished with chemo in three weeks, 27 April will be my last chemo session.  I am looking at buying into a share of an aircraft this summer and would like to get a third class medical or basic med.  What are my options and do I need some documentation from my Oncologist?

Bill Wall
3 Replies
AOPA Staff Answer
Hi Bill.

FAA medical certification will be considered after all cancer treatment has been complete and you are taking allowed medications. Metastatic cancers require an extended observation period of usually 3-5 years. The FAA will allow you to be on steroids up to 20mg per day

For a 3rd Class, submit a MedXPress application on, collect all treatment records pertaining to the cancer, and a current status report to take with you to the AME for your flight physical. The AME will defer the application to CAMI for decision.

Eligibility requirements for BasicMed are your most recent FAA issued medical was valid after July 2006, not denied, suspended, withdrawn, or revoked, and you have had no new occurrences of the specifically listed cardiac, neurological, and/or psychological conditions requiring a one-time special issuance. Obviously, cancer is not one of these conditions.

To become qualified under BasicMed, have a physical exam with any state licensed physician, and complete an online Medical Self-Assessment course. I have included a link to AOPA's web page to provide you with the details and access to the physical exam form and online course.

If you are eligible for BasicMed, the beauty of it is you are self-certifying, therefore no approval or denial process by the FAA.

There are limitations on the aircraft weight, number of seats, altitude, speed, and allowed countries. Please check on our web page to ensure the share of aircraft you will be buying meets the limitations.

First, the FAA will not issue for cancer like yours if you are currently undergoing chemotherapy.

Once you finish, you can apply, but it requires an FAA decision -- the AME cannot issue in office.  The AME guide says that if it's been less than 5 years since completion of treatment, "Submit a current status report, all pertinent medical reports to include staging, metastatic work up, and operative report."  Beyond that, you'll have to wait until Dr. Bruce Chien visits here later to get an idea of what your chances of a Special Issuance might be.  For a lot of reasons including both Basic Med and the Sport Pilot option in an LSA, you do NOT want to apply for a medical certificate unless you're pretty sure it will be issued, and Bruce can probably give you a good read on your chances.  You can also reach him off-line by contacting him through his website

As for Basic Med, you didn't say if you previously held an FAA Medical Certificate.  If you did, and it expired without being revoked or suspended, and you haven't had an application denied by the FAA since the last one expired, then it's between you and your physician as to whether you qualify, because cancer isn't one of the "special cases" listed in 14 CFR 68.9.  If you haven't previously held an FAA Medical Certificate, or the last one was suspended/revoked, or you last application was denied, then Basic Med isn't an option until you get an FAA Medical Certificate approved either normally or by Special Issuance.
Um, I would NOT submit any medxpress currently.  That is like going before a federal board of inquiry without what you need. Why would you do a thing like that, potentially obtain a denial and then be irretrievably locked out of even Light sport aviation.(!)

You need your record of diagnosis, and then of treatment. 
Biopsy result
You need the oncologists' record.
Negative Serology if appropriate- very helpful if it was positivie and is now negative: something to follow.
You need the oncologist's >90 day post cessation of treatment statement that you have no residual disease, and the scientific basis for that statement (Scan).  HINT: most will not make that statement for 180 days as HCFA guidelines do not reimburse for said scan except for immediate assessment of response, until 180 days. He also has to discuss why you are remain on steroids- and that it is NOT being used as chemo (usualy is being used as an anti-catabolic), and scratch is right that greater than 20 mgms /day is grounding.

If you were on certain chemotherapeutics you need a cardiac echo with an Ej. Fxn >40% (they really want to see 50%).
I sure would not make any application until you know that you are going to be negative 

I would proceed with caution and only when you are documentably stable and in documentable remission. Purchase of an aircraft at this time might be premature....and there will be many more bargains in the six months ahead.  Finish Chemo first, and then reassess.

Difficult Case AME
Owner of 7 aircraft over my lifetime