Multiple types of cancers – including rare cancers such as soft tissue cancers – have been linked to exposure to the toxic cloud of dust and debris that covered Manhattan in the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks. In the years since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC), an alarming increase in various health issues has been revealed not only in the first responders, but also at an alarming rate in Downton residents, office and other workers, and students.
What is Sarcoma?
Sarcoma is the term used for a broad range of rare cancers. A sarcoma is a tumor that develops in the bone and connective tissue, such as muscle, fat, nerves, blood vessels, and the tissue that surrounds bones and joints. Soft tissue sarcomas form in the tissues that connect, support, and surround other body structures, and bone sarcomas form in the bone tissue. The complexity of sarcoma lies in its ability to manifest in various parts of the body, sometimes making it difficult to diagnose.
Types of Cancer Classified as Sarcomas
Sarcomas include over 50 different subtypes. Some examples of sarcomas include:
- Liposarcoma: Originating in the body's fat cells, this sarcoma can develop in various fatty tissues throughout the body, but most often occurs on the abdomen, arms, and legs. It is the most common type of sarcoma found in adults.
- Leiomyosarcoma: This type of sarcoma impacts smooth muscle tissues and affects muscles that control involuntary movements, such as stomach contractions. It most often impacts the abdomen, uterus, blood vessels, and skin.
- Myeloid Sarcoma:
- Osteosarcoma: The most common form of bone cancer, osteosarcoma develops in the cells that create bones. It is most frequently diagnosed in teenagers but may occur in adults as well.
- Chondrosarcoma: This type of sarcoma affects the cartilage cells, and is more common in the arm, ribs, pelvis, thigh bone, and knee.
- Chordoma: This rare cancer originates in the spine of the base of the skull and can grow to affect nearby structures, including the brain.
- Ewing's Sarcoma: Typically found in bones or the soft tissue surrounding bones, this aggressive sarcoma often occurs in children and young adults.
- Fibrosarcoma: A soft tissue tumor that originates in the connective fibrous tissue found at the ends of the bones of the arm or legs.
- Angiosarcoma: This soft tissue cancer develops in the inner lining of blood vessels and lymph vessels. While it can occur anywhere in the body, it most often forms in the skin, breasts, liver, and spleen.
- Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST): Originating within the glandular cells of the digestive system, a GIST can be found anywhere in the gastrointestinal system, but most tumors originate in the stomach or small intestine.
Each of these sarcomas has unique characteristics and may require different treatment approaches. The careful and accurate diagnosis of these specific types of cancer is vital for successful treatment. If you or a loved one is dealing with a diagnosis of one of these rare cancers as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, registering with the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) is essential. The WTCHP can help you get the medical monitoring, car, and treatment you need.
Which Soft Tissue Cancers Are Connected to 9/11?
Research has shown a strong connection between exposure to the 9/11 attacks and several types of cancers. First responders and survivors were exposed to toxic dust and debris that included known and suspected carcinogens, ash, and other harmful particles, including asbestos, silica, metals, concrete, and glass. Many of these responders and survivors have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, prostate cancer, and various soft tissue cancers at rates higher than the general population. All soft and connective tissues are now recognized as 9/11-related conditions and are certified by the WTCHP.
Treatment for Soft Tissue Cancers
The treatment for soft tissue cancer varies based on the type of sarcoma, the stage of cancer, and individual patient needs. Treatment options may include:
Surgery involves the physical removal of a tumor or cancerous growth from the body. It can be an essential part of treatment for many types of cancer. This procedure requires skilled surgeons to ensure that all cancerous cells are removed while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues. Depending on the cancer's location, type, and stage, surgery can be curative or used to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life.
Chemotherapy is a well-known cancer treatment that uses various drugs to target cancer cells. These drugs are designed to interfere with the cancer cells' ability to grow and divide, effectively killing them or stopping their progression. Chemotherapy can be used alone or in combination with other treatments.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. This therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments like surgery or chemotherapy. By targeting the affected area with precision, radiation therapy can minimize damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Treatment is typically delivered in small, controlled doses over several weeks to maximize effectiveness while minimizing side effects.
Targeted therapy is a newer form of cancer treatment that utilizes medications specifically designed to attack certain genes or proteins related to cancer growth and spread. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which affects all rapidly dividing cells, targeted therapies are tailored to the specific characteristics of a patient's cancer. This allows for a more precise attack on cancer cells with potentially fewer side effects on healthy cells. Targeted therapy may be used in conjunction with other treatments or as an alternative.
How the World Trade Center Health Program Can Help
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act established the WTC Health Program. Administered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this program aims to assist responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with medical monitoring and treatment for 9/11-related health conditions, including soft tissue cancers as well as other health conditions such as aerodigestive disorders and mental health conditions.
Registering with the WTCHP is recommended for anyone who was in the vicinity of the attacks (anywhere in Manhattan south of Houston Street or Brooklyn Heights/DUMBO) on 9/11 or in the months (though mid-2002) following the attacks. This includes the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon as well as the plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The WTCHP can provide medical monitoring to those who were exposed and have an increased cancer risk.
The 9/11 Health and Compensation Act also created the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to provide financial compensation to survivors and responders who have suffered from WTCHP-certified physical health conditions or have had 9/11-related cancers diagnosed, and to family members of those who died as a result of the attacks or a 9/11-related health condition. If you or someone you love were affected by the 9/11 attacks, you may be eligible for compensation through the VCF. The WTCHP can certify your condition for eligibility with the VCF.
Consult an Experienced 9/11 Attorney For Aid
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with soft tissue cancer linked to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, consulting an experienced 9/11 attorney is crucial to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. An experienced 9/11 attorney can guide you through the process of registering with the WTCHP and the VCF and filing a claim with the VCF for financial compensation.
The dedicated 9/11 attorneys at Hansen & Rosasco focus on these cases and are well-versed in handling the complex documentation required to prove your presence and certify your condition with the WTCHP. Recognizing the unique challenges posed by these cancers and pursuing the appropriate compensation and care is essential for survivors, and Hansen & Rosasco attorneys stand ready to assist in this vital endeavor. We can provide you with the best opportunity to receive the compensation and support you rightfully deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation, and find out more about what we can do for you.