One of the primary purposes of the James Zadroga Act and the new Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was to extend coverage beyond those who suffered immediate injuries in the wake of 9/11—and to account for the increasing number of first responders, rescue workers and others who were still being diagnosed with cancers and other chronic illnesses even 10 years later.
For this reason, the new VCF opened with a new and expanded list of chronic conditions attached. A number of cancers were added on October 12, 2012. Most recently, prostate cancer was added on October 21, 2013. On May 2, 2013, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association petitioned the Administrator of the WTC Health Program to add prostate cancer as a covered condition. Two months later, the Administrator reported final action in the Federal Register adopting that petition after considering a variety of evidence:
- A study encompassing 25,000 first responders and reported in Environmental Health Perspectives found responders had a 17 percent greater than average incidence of prostate cancer.
- This study was corroborated by findings of several agencies, including the FDNY and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
- The administrator’s prior decision to exclude prostate cancer was based on the limited studies available at the time. More recent studies had encompassed a larger and more diverse sample group.
In accordance with this final ruling by the administrator, the special master of the VCF was ordered to update VCF eligibility criteria to place them in accord with the WTC Health Program. As such, first responders and others physically present in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks who were subsequently diagnosed with prostate cancer are able to pursue compensation with the help of dedicated VCF claims attorneys.