Yes. Stomach Cancer (also known as malignant neoplasm of the stomach) is one of the many conditions linked to 9/11 toxic exposure. If you have this condition and were in the exposure zone in the months after the terrorist attacks, you may qualify for both 9/11 compensation and health benefits that will pay for your treatments. Calling a September 11 benefits attorney can help you determine whether you qualify.
What Is a Malignant Neoplasm of the Stomach?
Malignant neoplasm of the stomach is the medical term for the condition more commonly known as stomach cancer or gastric cancer.
The stomach is a muscular sac located in the upper-middle portion of the abdomen, just below the ribs. The stomach’s purpose is to store the food that you eat and to help break the food down and digest it.
Stomach cancer can affect any part of the stomach but most often occurs at the junction where the esophagus—the long tube that carries your food from your mouth to the stomach—connects to the stomach. Medical professionals do not know the precise causes of stomach cancer, but research has shown correlations between developing stomach cancer and exposure to asbestos, which was found in the toxic dust at Ground Zero. Stomach cancer is also linked to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which research has also tied to 9/11-related toxic exposure.
The symptoms of stomach cancer include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling bloated after eating
- Feeling full after eating small amounts of food
- Stomach pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Swelling or fluid buildup in the abdomen
- Blood in the stool
- Feeling weak or fatigued due to anemia, which is often associated with stomach cancer
Those who are at higher risk of having stomach cancer include:
- Men. The disease is more prevalent in males than it is in females
- Those over 60. While stomach cancer can impact someone at any age, it is most commonly diagnosed in individuals over 60
- Those who are of African American, Hispanic American, Native American, or Asian American ethnicity, as those groups have a higher incidence of stomach cancer than non-Hispanic whites
- Those who use alcohol or tobacco regularly
- Those with a family history of stomach or other types of cancers
How Is Stomach Cancer Diagnosed?
Stomach cancer is generally diagnosed after an individual goes to the doctor because he or she is exhibiting symptoms of the disease.
- The doctor will discuss your symptoms with you and go over your medical history, including a family history of cancer and your exposure to the toxic World Trade Center dust plume.
- The doctor will perform a physical examination, which may include pressing on your abdomen to feel for anything abnormal.
- You will undergo laboratory tests, including a blood test to check for anemia as well as a stool sample to look for blood in the stool that is not visible to the naked eye.
- If your doctor has reason to believe that you are suffering from stomach cancer, then he or she will refer you to a gastroenterologist, who is a doctor specializing in diseases of the digestive tract.
- The gastroenterologist will likely perform additional tests, which may include an upper endoscopy, which involves inserting a long tube that contains a video camera down your throat so the doctor can search for tumors. A doctor may also perform a biopsy, in which the doctor removes some cells from the stomach to study them under a microscope.
- Other tests may include:
- an upper GI series, which is an X-ray test in which the doctor examines your esophagus, stomach, and the first part of your small intestine;
- a CT scan, which often confirms the location of cancer;
- an endoscopic ultrasound, which can be used to determine if the cancer cells have spread to the stomach wall or nearby lymph node;
- a PET scan, performed to determine the extent of the spread of cancer cells through the body;
- and a chest X-ray, which can help determine if the cancer has spread to the lungs.
How Is Stomach Cancer Treated?
There are various accepted treatments for stomach cancer. Your doctor will recommend treatment based on your overall health and ability to handle aggressive treatments and how far the cancer has spread.
Some of the common treatments for stomach cancer include:
- Surgery: Surgery can be performed to remove the tumor as well as part or all of the stomach, nearby lymph nodes, and other structures. Palliative surgery can also be provided in cases in which the cancer is too widespread to remove all at once. Surgery can be performed to prevent the tumor from bleeding as well as to prevent the stomach from being blocked by cancer growth and to provide the patient with some relief from symptoms of the disease. People may eat even when their stomach has been completely removed, as the doctor will attach the esophagus to the small intestine during the procedure. However, without the storage space provided by the stomach, the individual can only eat a small amount at a time, meaning he or she will need to eat more often.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy fights the cancer through the administration of a strong cancer-fighting drug either through an IV line or pills. Chemo is often given before surgery to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove. Additionally, chemotherapy can be provided after surgery for stomach cancer to kill any remaining cancer cells that weren’t removed in surgery. Chemo is the most common treatment for stomach cancer that has spread to distant regions of the body or for situations in which the individual cannot tolerate stomach surgery. Despite its effectiveness as a treatment method, chemo can make an individual feel extremely ill, with symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, hair loss, diarrhea or constipation, mouth sores, an increased chance of infection, easy bleeding, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
- Radiation therapy: This treatment uses high-energy rays or particles to kill cancer cells in a specific part of the body. Radiation is often included in a patient’s treatment plan alongside chemo if the cancer is in its early stages. Additionally, radiation is often used to shrink the tumor before surgery so that it will be easier to remove. It will also often be used after surgery to ensure that no cancer cells remain in the body. For tumors that cannot be removed through surgery, radiation can be used to slow the growth or to provide relief for symptoms such as bleeding, pain, and eating problems.
- Targeted drug therapy: As researchers learn more about cancer, they develop drugs that can kill the cancer cells without causing so much harm to the rest of the body. Targeted drugs are used as a treatment method on their own or in combination with chemo.
- Immunotherapy: This is another recent advance in cancer treatment. Immunotherapy is the use of medicine to build up the body’s immune system to fight the cancer cells on its own.
Because there are so many options for treating stomach cancer, your doctor will suggest the treatments that he or she believes will provide you the best chance of recovery and that you can handle, based on your overall health at the time of diagnosis. One extremely important aspect of this discussion will be an honest assessment of whether the goal should be to remove the cancer or whether the goal is to slow the progression of the disease and reduce the severity of the symptoms. This will depend on how far the disease has progressed.
Obtaining Assistance For 9/11-Related Stomach Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with stomach cancer, you likely have a hundred questions in your mind about your future and your ability to provide for your family while you are fighting your disease. In early 2011, then-President Barack Obama authorized the James Zadroga Health & Compensation Act. This act provided a funding mechanism and structure for two federal assistance programs for individuals who were harmed by exposure to the toxic dust from Ground Zero or other sites of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Here is a brief look at both of these programs.
World Trade Center Health Program
The World Trade Center Health Program (also known as the WTC Health Program) provides medical monitoring, screening, and treatment of 9/11-associated illnesses, including many types of cancer and other diseases impacting bodily systems. These services are provided through several designated medical centers as well as a partner network with medical providers across the country.
To participate in the program, you must show that you were among one of the groups of impacted individuals and that you had substantial exposure to the toxins through the amount of time you spent in the exposure area. If you are diagnosed with a 9/11-related illness, the program will certify your condition. Having a certified 9/11-related medical condition is one of the criteria for obtaining compensation through the other federal assistance program, as described below.
The September 11th Victims’ Compensation Fund (9/11 VCF) provides compensation for wage loss and pain and suffering to those who have been diagnosed with a 9/11-related condition, as well as compensation for the family members of individuals who have died from such conditions.
To obtain this compensation, you must first have your medical condition certified by the WTC Health Program. After that, you register to file your claim within two years of the latest date listed on your certification. You must register your claim within two years of the certification, as this reserves your right to file a claim if you need to.
Once you are registered, you have until October 2090 to file your claim. In addition to having a WTC Health Program-certified condition, to successfully obtain funds from the VCF, you must also submit documentation to prove your presence at a 9/11 exposure site and other required documentation.
If your loved one has died as the result of a 9/11-related medical condition, you will be required to register with the VCF within two years of the death and will be required to submit a death certificate along with other documentation. The death certificate must list the 9/11-related condition as either the primary cause of death or a significant contributing factor.
Let Us Help You Obtain 9/11 Assistance
Why should you choose Hansen & Rosasco as your 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund lawyers? Hansen & Rosasco has devoted their entire firm to the opportunity to assist those who were exposed to the toxic dust associated with the 9/11 terrorist attacks to obtain the compensation they need to fight the serious—and often deadly—illnesses that have resulted from the exposure. If you are suffering from a 9/11 illness, we can help you with the application process for the WTC Health Program so that you can obtain free monitoring of your medical and mental health, as well as medical treatment of your disease.
We can also help you register with the VCF or file your claim, and can assist you in expediting the review process for your claim if your medical situation warrants a quick decision. We are familiar with the appeals processes for both of these programs and can also explore other benefit programs that may have funds or other types of assistance in combination with the assistance you receive from the WTC Health Program and the VCF. Contact us online for your free case review so we can begin exploring your options, or give us a call at (855) 353-4907.