For FDNY firefighters, 9/11 Cancer Risk Continues
New York City firefighters (as well as firefighters from other jurisdictions) continue to face increased cancer risks and battle chronic respiratory issues – even 18 years after the World Trade Center attacks.
This finding is based on research discussed at a recent Regional Firefighter Cancer Seminar at the FDNY Fire Academy on Randall’s Island. The event was sponsored by the First Responder Center for Excellence, along with the Firefighter Cancer Support Network and the FDNY.
The one-day event included findings on occupational cancer and research for firefighters, as well as prevention training, best practices and available resources for departments and individual firefighters.
The latest research shows that even those who joined fire departments after September 11 face an “elevated risk” for certain cancers, according to The Chief-Leader, a New York City-based weekly publication whose focus includes municipal government and civil servants. “Believe it or not, among the firefighters who were not yet on the department during 9/11, we have 65 cases of severe [presumptive] cancers,” Deputy Assistant Chief Mike Meyers, the FDNY’s chief of safety, told The Chief-Leader. “Overall, firefighters are 14 percent more susceptible than the general population to cancer,” he added.
The findings are even more drastic for those who worked at Ground Zero in the weeks and months that followed September 11. On that day, the FDNY lost 343 firefighters who rushed to the crash site. And of those firefighters who were exposed to the toxins at Ground Zero, 200 have since died.
The FDNY is now concerned about a possible increase in diagnoses in hematological (such as leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma), thyroid cancer, bladder cancer and testicular cancers, Meyers said.
Now, nearly 20 years later, there are other ailments. “Unfortunately, we have moved into the third wave of diseases,” Dr. Jacqueline Moline, director of the Northwell Health Queens World Trade Center Health Program, stated in June, when she testified before Congress. “Over 50 percent of firefighters who worked at the World Trade Center site have developed a respiratory condition,” she said at the time. The FDNY has reported that more than 1,000 of its active and retired members are fighting 9/11-related cancers, according to The Daily News.
And those numbers are expected to increase, researchers say. “Our Bureau of Health Service projected 2,400 cases of new cancer between 2017 and 2031,” Meyers told The Chief-Leader. “So, looking ahead, we are talking about 25 percent of our workforce present at the WTC coming down with some kind of cancer.”
Despite these sobering predictions, medical experts say that early detection and treatment can bring positive health outcomes. There are resources that can assist firefighters and others who breathed in toxins as they rushed to the scene of the terrorist attacks at Ground Zero and helped in the recovery efforts. They are encouraged to enroll in the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which provides financial support for those with serious medical issues, and the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides lifetime medical care, with no deductible or copays.
Enrolling in these programs can seem overwhelming: There are timeframes and deadlines to consider, records to collect, witnesses to interview, affidavits to prepare and forms to complete and file. It is a complex process, and many responders and survivors are not even aware of the benefits it includes, such as pain and suffering, wrongful death awards, and past out-of-pocket medical expenses, among others. For these reasons, attorneys at Turley Hansen & Rosasco, LLP say it is key to work with 9/11 attorneys who understand the nuances of the programs to successfully navigate the process. Over 80 percent of all eligible 9/11 victims with current claims use lawyers to help assist in proper claim filing. First responders are encouraged to enroll in the programs, get evaluated, and discover the resources that are available to them.
Give us a call today at 1-800-887–7299. A member of our team of highly qualified “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, Luis Alvarez 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2019” lawyers is ready to give you help and guidance in filing a claim with the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. To learn more about September 11th Victim Compensation Fund eligibility, click here.
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