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New Treatment Shows Promise Fighting Esophageal Cancer

April 6, 2021 | Michael Barasch

Nearly 500,000 people, including first responders, downtown office workers, residents, and students and teachers, were exposed to Ground Zero toxins after 9/11 and have a higher risk of developing respiratory disease and 68 different types of cancer, including esophageal cancer.

Though relatively uncommon in the general population, the 9/11 community has been disproportionately impacted by esophageal cancer, as well as illnesses that could result in esophageal cancer such as Barrett’s esophagus and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

But thankfully, the results of a clinical study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that a new treatment could direct the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells, delaying a return of esophageal cancer after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

The treatment, which requires approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has previously been used for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, melanoma, and colorectal cancer.

Symptoms of esophageal cancer often include difficulty swallowing, unintended weight loss, pain, pressure, or burning in the chest, worsening indigestion or heartburn, and coughing or hoarseness.An estimated 19,260 people in the United States will be diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2021, according to the American Cancer Society: 15,310 men and 3,950 women.

Key risk factors for esophageal cancer are smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, acid reflux disease, and – two diseases frequently found in the 9/11 community – GERD and Barrett’s esophagus.

If you are a 9/11 first responder or survivor, speak with your primary health care provider about screenings for esophageal cancer, especially if you have any of the symptoms or risk factors such as GERD or Barrett’s esophagus

If you are diagnosed with esophageal cancer or any of the other cancers or respiratory diseases impacting the 9/11 community, know your rights. Please contact us for more information on free health care and compensation. 

Visit or call 212-385-8000 today.

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