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Some 9/11-Related Illnesses Not Yet Covered by Health Program or Victim Fund

October 19, 2021 | Michael Barasch

We have known for many years that anyone exposed to Ground Zero toxins after 9/11 has a much higher risk of developing 68 different types of cancer and a host of  respiratory diseases.

But there are other illnesses for which the 500,000 9/11 first responders and survivors have a higher risk, such as uterine cancer, heart conditions, autoimmune disease, and even rare conditions such as Tarlov cysts.

Tarlov cysts, initially identified in 1938, are tiny sacs filled with spinal fluid that could affect the nerve roots at the base of the spine.

Potential symptoms of Tarlov cysts include lower back pain, sciatica, urinary incontinence, headaches, constipation, sexual dysfunction, and some loss of feeling or control of movement in the leg or the foot. 

The symptoms could develop as a result of shock, trauma, or exertion that displaces spinal fluid, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

The causes of Tarlov cysts are unclear. But an estimated 86% of people who develop the cysts are women, mostly between the ages of 31 and 60.

Treatment for Tarlov cysts could require surgery to remove or drain the cysts.

Tarlov cysts have not yet been added by the World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to the list of covered conditions eligible for free health care and compensation.

However, new illnesses have been added to that list in the past, and an increasing amount of data from the Health Program helps strengthen the correlation between toxic exposure and a host of illnesses—such as Tarlov cysts.

If you are diagnosed with Tarlov cysts or any of the cancers or respiratory illnesses impacting the 9/11 community, please contact us. 

Visit or call 212-385-8000 today.

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