In the weeks and months following 9/11, responders worked tirelessly to clean up Ground Zero. The fall of the towers released thousands of aerosolized building materials, such as asbestos, gypsum, and fiberglass. As a result, those who aided the cleanup efforts at the World Trade Center site, as well as those who lived, worked, and studied in Lower Manhattan below Canal Street, breathed in these toxic chemicals. Years later, the death toll continues to rise as members of the 9/11 community fall victim to 9/11-related illnesses, such as kidney cancer.
Anyone present in the New York City Exposure Zone between September 11th, 2001, and May 30th, 2002, who is suffering from kidney cancer, may be entitled to substantial compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The qualified 9/11 fund lawyers at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP have successfully prosecuted countless 9/11 claims, recovering the compensation our clients need to heal.
What Is Kidney Cancer?
The kidneys are two small organs located on either side of the spine responsible for filtering out waste products from the blood. Kidney cancer is the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells in the kidneys. Adenocarcinoma, or renal cell carcinoma, is the most prevalent type of kidney cancer and occurs in the kidneys’ tubules, which assist in urine production. The disease typically appears in one kidney and rarely spreads to the other.
However, once symptoms appear, cancerous cells tend to spread quickly as they travel through the blood to other parts of the body. It is common for kidney cancer to spread to the tissue surrounding the kidneys, as well as the lymph nodes and lungs.
Symptoms of Kidney Cancer
Early-stage kidney cancer presents few symptoms. As the disease progresses, however, one may notice the following signs:
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Back pain, particularly in the lower back and to one side
- Pain in the upper abdomen, back, and sides
- Blood in the urine
- Recurring fevers
- Unexplained weight loss
Individuals who experience any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period of time should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once symptoms present, kidney cancer tends to spread aggressively; therefore, a prompt diagnosis could be lifesaving.
How is Kidney Cancer Diagnosed?
Patients with a family history of kidney disease, kidney cancer, or hypertension are at greater risk for developing kidney cancer. As such, the patient’s doctor will evaluate their medical history and perform a physical exam, looking for swelling or lumps in the abdomen.
The physician may also run diagnostic tests to screen for kidney cancer, such as:
- Urinalysis, which detects blood in the urine;
- Blood chemistry tests, which demonstrate kidney function;
- A complete blood count, used to determine a patient’s red blood cell level;
- An abdomen and kidney ultrasound, which measures the shape and size of the kidneys, and may reveal tumors; or
- A CT scan, which may show if the cancer has metastasized or spread to other parts of the body.
How is Kidney Cancer Treated?
Treatment methods for kidney cancer depend on the tumor’s location and whether or not it has metastasized. Since early-stage kidney cancer exhibits few symptoms, it is common for kidney cancer to have spread by the time the patient receives a diagnosis. As such, prompt and frequent monitoring is crucial.
In most cases, treatment begins with the surgical removal of tumors. Cancerous tumors can either be removed via nephrectomy (removal of all or part of the kidney) or thermal surgeries such as cryosurgery (freezing the tumor) or radiofrequency ablation (exposing the tumor to cell-killing heat).
If the cancer has metastasized or the tumor is inoperable, the patient may be treated with other therapies, such as:
- Immunotherapy, which creates synthetic versions of chemicals usually produced by the immune system; and
- Targeted drug therapy, in which specific medications block the blood supply to the tumor, causing it to shrink.
The prognosis for kidney cancer depends on each unique case. Typically, patients whose cancer was caught in the early stages have a greater chance of survival, with 81 percent of Stage one kidney cancer patients surviving for at least five years. If the patient’s medical and genetic history places them at greater risk for kidney cancer, it may be best to undergo frequent screenings to catch cancerous cells in their early stages of development.
9/11 and Kidney Cancer Development
Clinical studies have linked kidney cancer with toxic exposure in the workplace. Therefore, it’s not surprising that kidney cancer ranks among the top 10 most common cancers found in the 9/11 community: in particular, kidney cancer occurs at a much higher rate in 9/11 responders. Additionally, first responders tend to develop kidney cancer at a younger age and in more aggressive forms as compared to the general population.
Doctors have also observed a recent rise in the rate of kidney cancer diagnoses, which could be due to increased screening and the disease’s long latency period.
Fortunately, the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) covers kidney cancer as a 9/11-related health condition. In addition to covering medical treatments related to 9/11 kidney cancer, the WTCHP also offers the 9/11 community-wide access to kidney cancer monitoring to catch the disease in its early stages. Those who spent time in any capacity in the New York City Exposure Zone may be eligible for covered medical services from the WTCHP. In addition to medical care from the WTCHP, qualified individuals are then able to register and submit a claim for compensation from the VCF.
VCF Compensation Available For 9/11 Kidney Cancer Claims
At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, our experienced 9/11 attorneys will determine the applicant’s eligibility for the WTCHP and file a timely VCF kidney cancer claim. We ensure that every client has access to the full benefits and compensation available through these two programs by always submitting a medically-supported optional impact statement to the VCF, and providing thorough, dedicated representation throughout the entire process. Call Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP at 212-983-3000 for a confidential consultation today.