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Why Men in the 9/11 Community Are at Greater Risk from Melanoma

April 20, 2023 | Michael Barasch

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.

Men in the 9/11 community have a particularly high risk of developing melanoma – and of dying from the illness.

In 2023, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 97,610 cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States – 58,120 in men and 39,490 in women. 

Of the 7,990 people who will die of melanoma in 2023, 5,420 will be men – more than two-thirds of total deaths.

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

A fast-growing cancer, melanoma risks spreading into blood vessels and lymph nodes and attacking other organs, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Surveys indicate that men are often less aware of skin cancer risks than women and consequently are less likely to use sunscreen. In addition, men are more likely to work and spend leisure time outdoors.

Doctors recommend applying sunscreen consistently when you are outdoors, staying indoors when the UV index exceeds 11, and wearing UV protective clothing.

Dermatologists advise following the ABCDE guide to identifying melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: A melanoma lesion often is oddly shaped;
  • Border: It has an irregular border;
  • Color: It has varying color;
  • Diameter: It is usually 6 millimeters wide, about the size of a pencil eraser; and
  • Evolving: It changes quickly on the skin.

As summer approaches, we urge every member of the 9/11 community to remain cautious and reduce their melanoma risk.

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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