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WTC Responders at Increased Risk for Head and Neck Cancers

March 30, 2019 | Michael Barasch

As the serious medical problems associated with 9/11 exposure mount, a new cancer risk has been identified. During a four-year period, diagnoses of head and neck cancers increased by 40 percent among World Trade Center first responders. Carcinogenic particles that were inhaled by police officers, fire fighters, military personnel and others at or near Ground Zero might have amplified other risk factors linked to these conditions.

A study conducted by Rutgers University and funded by the Centers for Disease Control was prompted by clinicians at the school’s World Trade Center Health Program. It noted a high number of patients afflicted with head and neck cancers. Whether they have sought treatment or not, rescue, recovery and cleanup workers should be aware of:

  • Types of cancer — The study addresses cancer of the oropharynx (the part of the throat at the back of one’s mouth) and the larynx (the area of the throat used for speaking, breathing and eating). These conditions were most associated with responders over age 55 who worked in military or protective service occupations on the pile or in the perimeter of Ground Zero.
  • Latency periods — These cancers have long latency periods, so WTC-exposed workers should stay vigilant and participate in medical monitoring programs that can identify potential problems among those in the high-risk group.
  • Other potential contributing factors — Smokers, heavy alcohol users and individuals who have contracted the oral HPV infection are more likely to develop cancer in the head or neck. First responders who fall into these categories should be especially careful.

Many different types of cancer are covered under the Zadroga Act, but qualifying for benefits can be complicated. An attorney who is seasoned in World Trade Center claims can guide clients through the process and identify links between one’s illness and their work at Ground Zero.

The lawyers of Barasch & McGarry have earned a reputation as trailblazers who have won exceptional results for 9/11 first responders and their families. If you seek counsel regarding a cancer claim or any other legal action pertaining to World Trade Center exposure, please call [ln::phone] or contact us online for a free consultation.

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