Expediting 9/11 Pancreatic Cancer Compensation Claims
Since September 11, 2001, an increasing number of 9/11 survivors (lower Manhattan workers, residents, and students) and first responders (firefighters, police officers) have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The exposure to the multiple cancer causing airborne toxins in the 9/11 Exposure Zone in lower Manhattan was just far too much. Therefore, we are regularly doing our best to “expedite” or speed up the resolution and payouts on pancreatic cancer claims.
Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers among the 68 cancers covered by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and the World Trade Center Health Program. The overall five (5) year survival rate for 9/11 victims with pancreatic cancer is just 9%. The survival rate for 9/11 victims with stage 4 pancreatic cancer – when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body – can be approximately one (1) year or less. The most common type of pancreatic cancer is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). It is often diagnosed after it has become advanced and/or metastatic.
Despite these statistics, there are promising new combination chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments on the horizon. To date, the only “cure” for pancreatic cancer is a complicated surgery called the Whipple procedure which is only appropriate for approximately 20% of patients. Thankfully, advanced cancer medical centers have begun doing the Whipple procedure through laparoscopic or robotic techniques. These techniques substantially cut down on recovery times.
Given the often poor prognosis of our clients with pancreatic cancer, the attorneys and staff at Hansen & Rosasco must take special measures to protect their rights to both timely medical care and swift compensation. The VCF Policies and Procedures Manual, Section 8.2, allows an Expedite Process for clients with a “terminal illness”. However, the VCF does not define the term “terminal illness” in writing. More importantly, they do not provide any written guidance on how long before a victim is expected to die before they will “expedite” a claim. In our opinion, this is one specific area where the VCF claims process needs immediate and significant improvement.
For example, until recently, our experience with the VCF was that they unofficially allowed claims to be expedited only if an oncologist provided a signed letter that the patient would likely die within 12 months and/or was entering hospice care (palliative care to relieve symptoms, but not cure). Then the VCF moved the goalposts unofficially by limiting the expedited process to clients with six (6) months or less to live. Now, unbelievably, it is our experience that the VCF has moved the goalposts once again and will not expedite a terminal claim unless the client has three (3) months or less to live.
Imagine asking your treating physician to write a letter to the VCF stating you have three months or less to live. Is your oncologist willing to write such a letter given what it may do to your continued fight against cancer? Are you willing to ask your doctor for such a letter?
Sadly, our office, despite our best efforts, has seen clients die before the VCF has made a decision on an “Expedite” request. Almost always a client’s expedited request has little or nothing to do with money. They are near the end of life and simply want some closure and wrap up their affairs for their family. It is one of the saddest days in our office when we experience this situation.
Because of the prognosis for many pancreatic cancer patients, we offer strong support for every individual and family we meet. Those affected with pancreatic cancer or other types of cancer as a result of the attack on the Twin Towers may be eligible for compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
Speaking with a 9/11 cancer lawyer at Hansen & Rosasco, LLP will give you the comfort you need during this time – from your own personal health care to your 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) payouts.
The Link Between 9/11 and Pancreatic Cancer
The World Trade Center attack resulted in the release of toxic substances into the air that affected the respiratory systems of those who were nearby. One of the most profound effects of the terrorist attacks has been the rise in the rate of cancers diagnosed, including pancreatic cancer, among those who were exposed to the toxic dust and fumes that resulted from the destruction and cleanup. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), individuals exposed to these 9/11 toxins –such as asbestos, silica, and benzene – are at an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Research has found that the toxic substances released on 9/11 can cause DNA mutations and damage in the pancreas, leading to the development of cancer.
In addition to those who were directly affected by the 9/11 attacks, there is also evidence that those who live in areas in all of lower Manhattan suffer from an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. This is due to the long-term exposure to the toxic dust and fumes that still linger in the air. Those who were directly exposed to the attack, as well as those who lived or worked anywhere south of Houston Street, should be aware of the potential risks related to pancreatic cancer.
Common Causes and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen. It is part of the digestive system and produces important enzymes and hormones that help break down foods. The pancreas also produces the hormone insulin and secretes it into the bloodstream in order to regulate the body’s glucose or sugar level.
Pancreatic cancer is a serious and often deadly form of cancer. It is relatively rare and can be difficult to detect. Pancreatic cancer is caused by abnormal cell growth in the pancreas. Genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing the disease. Factors such as smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, and diabetes have all been linked to an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, as has exposure to certain hazardous chemicals and radiation.
Often there will be no signs or symptoms in early pancreatic cancers. As the cancer progresses, common symptoms include jaundice, abdominal or back pain, weight loss or poor appetite, nausea or vomiting, gallbladder or liver enlargement, blood clots, diabetes, and fatigue.
How to Know if You Qualify For Pancreatic Cancer Compensation From Exposure
If you are a 9/11 survivor or a recovery worker who was at or near Ground Zero, or you lived or worked in lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the attacks, and you were exposed to the toxins released in the air, you may be eligible for compensation and free lifetime health care through the VCF and the WTC Health Program (WTCHP), as established by the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2011 (now the Never Forget the Heroes Act”). It will help to work with a 9/11 attorney who can help you with the following to determine if you qualify:
- Register and file a claim with the VCF.
- Dismiss, withdraw, and/or settle any 9/11-related lawsuits.
- Provide evidence of a primary diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, such as a biopsy report.
- Provide evidence of the impact to your life caused by pancreatic cancer.
- Show that you were present within the designated New York City Exposure Zone, or along the routes of debris removal at some point during the period beginning on September 11, 2001 and ending on May 30, 2002.
- If you received an award from the original 9/11 VCF that operated from 2001-2004 (VCF1), you must demonstrate that your VCF1 eligible injury or condition has substantially worsened, or that you have a new physical injury or condition which you had not suffered at the time of the VCF1 claim filing or which was not compensable at the time of VCF1; and that you have not already been fully compensated for your losses.
Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Options Through the WTC Health Program
The WTCHP provides treatment options for those who qualify. Depending on the type and stage of pancreatic cancer, as well as other factors, your treatment may vary. Treatment options for people with pancreatic cancer can include:
- Whipple Procedure Surgery
- Ablation or embolization treatments
- Radiation therapy
- Chemotherapy and other drug therapies
- Targeted therapies, including anti-angiogenesis drugs
- mRNA vaccines for pancreatic cancer
- Immune therapies
- Pain control, stenting, and other palliative care
Work With a 9/11 Attorney To See If You’re Eligible for Compensation
If you think you may qualify for compensation, it’s important to work with an experienced 9/11 law firm like Hansen & Rosasco. The attorneys at Hansen & Rosasco have been representing 9/11 victims in compensation claims for over 21 years. We can help you file a claim with the VCF. Your attorney can help you gather all the necessary information and documentation needed to submit a successful claim.
The 9/11 cancer lawyers at Hansen & Rosasco, LLP provide a hands-on, personal, and involved approach for all clients suffering from a 9/11-related cancer. We are dedicated to getting you and your family the maximum 9/11 Fund payouts you deserve. If you have questions about free 9/11 medical care or an award for pancreatic cancer from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, please call us TODAY at 855-353-4907 or fill out a contact form.