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Melanoma Monday Recognizes Major Threat to 9/11 Community

May 1, 2023 | Michael Barasch

Today is Melanoma Monday.

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 melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

Barasch & McGarry represents nearly 2,000 9/11 victims who have been diagnosed with melanoma.

Melanoma Monday, the first Monday in May, raises awareness about melanoma and other skin cancers, and encourages early detection through self-exams.

In 2023, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 97,610 cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States. 

The key risk factors for melanoma include ultraviolet (UV) light exposure (from sunlight, tanning beds, and sun lamps), moles on the skin, light skin and freckles, family history, a personal history of melanoma or other skin cancers, a weakened immune system, old age, and exposure to Ground Zero toxins on or after 9/11.

To prevent melanoma, avoid the sun during the middle of the day, use sunscreen year-round, wear protective clothing, and avoid tanning lamps and beds.

If you notice any changes to an existing mole on your skin or the development of a new pigmented or unusual-looking growth on your skin, contact your primary health care provider immediately.

All 9/11 first responders and survivors should have an annual skin exam, because skin cancers including melanoma are the most common cancers among the 9/11 community.

If you are diagnosed with 9/11-related melanoma, 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 melanoma 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. 

An early diagnosis could save your life.

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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