Years after the dust over Ground Zero had finally settled, tens of thousands of first responders and survivors of the 9/11 tragedy began to contract serious illnesses with alarming similarities. Among these illnesses was prostate cancer, appearing in men who had experienced prolonged exposure to the smoke and toxic fumes that permeated the Exposure Zone of Manhattan for months after the incident.
If you have prostate cancer and were in the Exposure Zone from September 11th, 2001 to May 30, 2002, contact the skilled legal team at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today at 212-983-3000 to discuss your 9/11 prostate cancer claim and determine if you are eligible for assistance.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is the formation and uncontrollable growth of cancerous tumors in the prostate, a small gland that surrounds the male urethra, and is responsible for producing semen.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
The presence of symptoms depends on what kind of prostate cancer the individual has. Most cases of non-aggressive prostate cancer do not exhibit symptoms in the early stages. Aggressive prostate cancer, however, is characterized by its fast growth, with symptoms quickly presenting themselves throughout the body.
Symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Blood in the urine;
- A stream of urine that is slower than usual;
- A frequent urge to urinate;
- Erectile dysfunction; and
- Blood in the semen after ejaculation.
Aggressive prostate cancer tends to spread quickly to other parts of the body, especially the bones. You may experience bone pain or tenderness, particularly in the back, chest, and pelvis. Numbness in the lower extremities is serious, as it indicates that prostate cancer has spread to your spine. Seek medical help immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
How Is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?
There is still much we don’t know about prostate cancer, and as such, the diagnostic tools at our disposal can be misleading and cause unnecessary alarm in patients. The American Cancer Association recommends that doctors speak with patients about prostate screening as early as 40 years old for very high-risk groups, and as late as 50 years old for those at average risk. The WTCHP provides prostate cancer screenings for its members.
If you decide to undergo screening, your doctor will most likely perform one or more of the following tests:
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, a blood test which measures the levels of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate;
- Digital rectal exam (DRE), the most common prostate test, in which your doctor inspects your prostate by inserting a finger into your rectum and checking for tumors;
- Prostate biopsy, a tissue sample from the prostate, which your doctor will examine for abnormal cell growth; and
- Imaging tests such as a CT, MRI, or bone scan.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common and deadly forms of cancer in the US. Early-stage prostate cancer rarely displays symptoms, or the symptoms are so commonplace and mild that a patient may not recognize them as a sign of a serious underlying issue. This makes prostate cancer difficult to catch in its beginnings, which may contribute to its deadliness.
How Is Prostate Cancer Treated?
Your treatment plan for prostate cancer will depend on its rate of growth, how early doctors identified the disease, and to what extent it has metastasized. Your doctor will also consider other risk factors such as your age and preexisting health conditions when creating your treatment plan.
In many cases of non-aggressive prostate cancer, doctors advise patients to perform “active surveillance,” in which patients refrain from undergoing treatment but visit their doctor regularly to monitor cancer’s progress. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend radiation or radical prostatectomy, a surgical procedure that removes the entire prostate.
More aggressive forms of prostate cancer may require a more invasive surgical approach, as well as therapies such as:
- hormone therapy, which reduces the amount of testosterone in your body
- immunotherapy, which stimulates your immune system into combatting cancerous growth
The prognosis for prostate cancer is favorable if the disease is caught early. However, once prostate cancer has metastasized (spread) to other parts of your body, eradicating it becomes more difficult. In many cases, it is impossible to eliminate metastasized prostate cancer completely, and survival rates past five years are very poor.
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) supports those suffering from 9/11-related prostate cancer. Speak to one of our skilled 9/11 attorneys about your options for enrolling in the WTCHP and bringing a 9/11 prostate cancer claim.
Higher Prevalence and More Aggressive Prostate Cancer in 9/11 First Responders and Survivors
In the 9/11 community, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among first responders and the most common among survivors. Although survivors and first responders experience many of the same 9/11-related health conditions, prostate cancer is one of the few illnesses that responders and survivors experience at a similar rate.
According to research conducted by Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, there is “evidence of increased risk for certain cancers among WTC-exposed responders.” The study of 28,729 first responders revealed that these individuals have a 41 percent higher risk of developing blood cancer (leukemia), a 25 percent higher risk of developing prostate cancer, and a 219 percent higher risk of developing thyroid cancer.
In addition, 9/11 prostate cancer typically appears earlier in life and spreads more aggressively among the 9/11 community than in the general population. Researchers believe that the inflammatory properties of the WTC dust’s hazardous materials can trigger prostate cancer. Shockingly, in one study, animals who were exposed to WTC dust showed changes in prostate gene composition within one day of exposure.
As such, those who spent even a few hours in the Exposure Zone should monitor their prostate health frequently and request regular prostate screenings from their doctor.
Fortunately, studies like this increase our awareness of the low inflammation tolerance of the prostate, and may lead to earlier, lifesaving diagnoses in many. Additionally, the WTCHP offers free and expanded testing for 9/11-related health conditions such as prostate cancer.
Recovering Compensation for 9/11 Related Prostate Cancer
The WTCHP and the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) offer financial assistance to address the unique healthcare needs of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. If you are suffering from 9/11 prostate cancer, you may be eligible for substantial vcf compensation for your pain and suffering and lifetime medical care. Contact Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP to discuss your potential 9/11 prostate cancer claim.
Those eligible for enrollment in the WTCHP include:
- FDNY responders who were present at least one day for the rescue and recovery effort at any 9/11 site;
- General responders, such as NYPD officers and the National Guard;
- Responders in the Pentagon/Shanksville, PA areas, such as emergency service providers, cleanup workers, and volunteers;
- NYC survivors, who lived, worked, or otherwise spent prolonged periods of time in the New York disaster area.
Additionally, the above victims must have been present in the Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001 to May 30, 2002, to be eligible. Only members of the WTCHP are entitled to compensation from the VCF unless it is a claim on behalf of a deceased person or there are special circumstances.
The World Trade Center Health Program
The WTCHP provides medical and pharmaceutical benefits to its members for a 9/11-related illness or injury. Under this program, you may be eligible to receive medical treatment for your 9/11 prostate cancer. Additionally, members have access to regular cancer screenings.
The Victim Compensation Fund
The VCF is a separate but related government program. A successful claim brought before the VCF will result in financial compensation for pain and suffering, loss of earnings, out-of-pocket expenses, and survivor benefits. For example, a disabled firefighter whose 9/11-related illness forced them to retire earlier than expected might claim compensation from the VCF as a substitution for lost wages. All claims registered with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund by July 29, 2021 are considered timely, regardless of the date of diagnosis. If you do not register by July 29, 2021, you may still register so long as it is within two years from the date that you knew that your condition was 9/11-related. That will begin to run from the date of your World Trade Center Health Program certification, or when any other federal or state entity informed you that your condition is 9/11-related.
VCF Compensation Available For 9/11 Prostate Cancer Claims
If you are suffering from prostate cancer and were present in the Exposure Zone, you may qualify for substantial compensation from the VCF. The experienced 9/11 attorneys at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, can determine your eligibility for a VCF prostate cancer claim. Call Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today at 212-983-3000 for a free and confidential consultation about your VCF prostate cancer claim.