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Barasch & McGarry Recognizes Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month

April 11, 2023 | Michael Barasch

April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month.

9/11 first responders and people who were working, living, or studying in Lower Manhattan below Canal Street on and after 9/11 are at risk of developing many respiratory illnesses and 69 different types of cancer — including esophageal cancer.

According to a report from the American Cancer Society, an estimated 21,560 new esophageal cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2023, 17,030 in men and 4,530 in women.

Barasch & McGarry represents nearly 200 9/11 first responders and survivors with esophageal cancer.

Barrett’s esophagus, which often precedes esophageal cancer, occurs when the esophagus becomes damaged by acid reflux, causing the lining to thicken and become red.

The condition results from stomach acid leaking into the esophagus, as happens with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), another condition that appears frequently in the 9/11 community.

For those with Barrett’s esophagus or GERD, regular checkups with imaging and biopsies of the esophagus could find precancerous cells (known as dysplasia), allowing for treatment to prevent esophageal cancer from developing. Early detection is critical.

Symptoms of both esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus can include difficulty swallowing, unintended weight loss, pain, pressure, or burning in the chest, worsening indigestion or heartburn, and coughing or hoarseness.

The risk factors for esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus are smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, acid reflux disease, GERD, and exposure to Ground Zero toxins after 9/11. 

Remember that if you are diagnosed with 9/11-related esophageal cancer, your family medical history and pre-existing conditions will not affect your eligibility for free health care or compensation. 

If you were there in Lower Manhattan, the government presumes your cancer was the result of exposure to Ground Zero toxins.

If you are diagnosed with esophageal cancer or any other 9/11-related cancers or respiratory illnesses, Barasch & McGarry can help you access resources through the free World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).

The health program provides comprehensive medical care to 9/11 victims for their 9/11-related illnesses.

The victim fund offers tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.

For the WTC Health Program, the exposure zone consists of all of Manhattan below Houston Street and parts of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO in Brooklyn.

For the 9/11 VCF, the exposure zone includes the area of Manhattan south of Canal Street and west of Clinton Street.

If you were exposed to Ground Zero toxins, you should know your health status. Don’t let a delayed diagnosis become a death sentence.

Barasch & McGarry, Lawyers for the 9/11 Community, represents more than 35,000 members of the 9/11 community.

Visit or call 212-385-8000 today.

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