Of all the illnesses and diseases associated with exposure to the toxic dust caused by the 9/11 collapse of the World Trade Center, few are more feared—or insidious—than cancer. While many medical conditions were more clearly and quickly identified as being potentially caused by exposure to the toxins, many types of cancers can take 10 years or more before they can be detected and diagnosed. An article from Duke University states it this way: “Most cancers take years to develop and often occur in people as they get older. This long process is mainly due to the cell’s protective mechanisms to keep cancer from developing. However, as cells age, the chance of accumulating harmful mutations increases and cancer cells can start to grow. Once the cells become cancerous, it can take years of continuous dividing for the cancer cells to produce a human tumor that is large enough to cause illness…”
In the 20-plus years since the horrific 9/11 attacks—particularly the deadliest one in New York City—those who lived and/or worked in lower Manhattan on that day and for the nine months that followed continue to suffer physical and psychological damage. Research continues to uncover 9/11-related illnesses and diseases. As they are discovered, they are added or are under consideration for addition to the list of conditions covered by the World Trade Center Health Program.
What is uterine cancer?
Uterine cancer (also called endometrial cancer) is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs. And according to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that there will be more than 66,500 new cases of uterine cancer in the U.S. in 2021, with approximately 13,000 deaths. While the trend of incidence rates decreased from 1975 to about 2007, it has been steadily rising since then.
There are several types of uterine cancer:
- Endometrioid adenocarcinoma: This type of uterine cancer forms in the glandular cells of the uterine lining. It is the most common type of uterine cancer.
- Serous adenocarcinoma: These tumors are more likely to spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
- Adenosquamous carcinoma: This rare form of uterine cancer has elements of both adenocarcinoma and carcinoma of the squamous cells that line the outer surface of the uterus.
- Carcinomasarcoma: This rare form of uterine cancer was previously thought to be a type of uterine sarcoma. However, it is now felt to be a uterine (endometrial) cancer. It has elements of both adenocarcinoma and sarcoma. These tumors have a high risk of spreading to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
Uterine cancer symptoms include:
- Post-menopausal vaginal bleeding
- Bleeding between periods
- Pelvic pain
While all specific causes of uterine cancer are not known, risk factors include obesity, early onset menstruation or menopause, and age. But like many cancers, environmental risks may play a role as well. This includes exposure to the 9/11 dust cloud toxins, which contained a number of known carcinogens such as asbestos, hexavalent chromium, and vinyl chloride.
Less than half of the Victim Compensation Fund registrant pool consists of females
A recently published article suggests a possible reason as to why uterine cancer has not yet been added to the list of 9/11-related diseases: “While the survivor community is about half female, they make up just a fraction of 9/11 program registrants. By August 2021, survivors were just 32.5 percent of the VCF registrant pool.” Moreover, “”We just don’t have enough studies of women…only 14 percent of the responder community, and less than one (1) percent of FDNY responders, are female.”
That same article points out that uterine cancer is the “only reproductive cancer excluded” from the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) list of 9/11-related cancers. In a letter to the WTCHP and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New Jersey Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill wrote that: “…Many other cancers of the female and male reproductive system have been included in the WTCHP as covered conditions, including: ovarian; placenta; vulva; vagina; cervix uteri; prostate; penis; and testicular cancers. Given that exposure contributes to cancer throughout the reproductive system, it seems likely that it could also contribute to cancer in the uterus.”
Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee votes to study uterine cancer
In late September, 2021, the Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee of the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP STAC) voted to form a work group to study the causal relationship between exposure to toxins and find a substantial link to that exposure and 9/11 uterine cancer.
It is the mission of the Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee to “review scientific and medical evidence and to make recommendations to the Administrator of the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program regarding additional WTC Health Program eligibility criteria, potential additions to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions, and research regarding certain health conditions related to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”
In addition to the WTCHP STAC, the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) funds research to study:
- Biomarkers of exposures or health outcomes
- Exposure-response relationships
- Improvements in diagnosis and treatment
- Patterns of illness (age, gender, etc.)
- Risk factors for disease
- Other research studies on WTC-related health conditions or emerging conditions.
For women who lived, worked, volunteered, or were first responders in the New York Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002 and who have developed uterine cancer, it is vitally important to have uterine cancer added to the certified conditions list. In addition to giving them access to free medical monitoring and treatment for the disease, it enables them to file a monetary compensation claim through the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
Contact our 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys today
Those who were in the Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002 and suffered an illness as a result of the 9/11 attacks may be entitled to free medical treatment and monitoring of their medical condition—as well as VCF monetary compensation. This may include women who have developed 9/11 uterine cancer or endometrial cancer through exposure to the toxic dust. To learn more about how you or a loved one can obtain benefits and compensation, please contact the skilled 9/11 lawyers at Weisfuse & Weisfuse to discuss your needs and concerns. We help eligible victims get the assistance they need. We have also successfully appealed denied and undercalculated VCF claims for our clients.
To schedule a free consultation, please call us at 332-239-1880 or contact us online.