• 9/11 Victim Programs
  • Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)
  • WTC Health Program (WTCHP)
  • Wrongful Death VCF Claims

The Death Toll for 9/11 Firefighters Continues to Rise with Late-Onset Cancers

Over 5,000 people have died from 9/11-related illnesses, including those who worked, lived, and went to school in Lower Manhattan – almost double the number of lives lost on that day. More than two decades after the attacks, the death toll for 9/11 firefighters continues to rise with over 340 members of the New York Fire Department (FDNY) who have now died from 9/11-related illnesses. 

One of the primary factors for the rising death toll is late-onset cancers linked to exposure to toxic substances at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, or the Shanksville, Pennsylvania crash site. 9/11 firefighters face an ongoing threat to their health, with new cases of cancer emerging long after the collapse of the Twin Towers created the cloud of dust and debris that filled the air in lower Manhattan and lingered for almost a year after the attacks. With the increased risk of developing cancer, understanding the various late-onset 9/11 cancers that affect firefighters and how to access ongoing medical monitoring is essential. 

Understanding Late-Onset 9/11 Cancers

Late-onset cancers are those that develop several years after the initial exposure to carcinogenic substances. For 9/11 firefighters and the other responders, the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) exposed them to a mix of chemicals such as asbestos, benzene, and dioxins, and other harmful substances such as pulverized concrete, metal, and glass. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) have extensively studied these exposures, and have linked them to a higher incidence of developing various late-onset cancers among 9/11 first responders. The WTCHP has tracked several types of cancer that have impacted first responders and has found that non-melanoma skin cancer has had the highest rate of occurrence thus far. However, because late-onset cancers such as mesothelioma can take decades to develop, cancer diagnoses and deaths among 9/11 firefighters are expected to continue to rise over the next decade.

Which Late-Onset Cancers Impact 9/11 Firefighters?

WTCHP research has found that 9/11 firefighters are at increased risk for several types of late-onset cancer, with thyroid cancer being one of the most common. Studies have shown a 219% increased risk of thyroid cancer in first responders who worked at Ground Zero, including firefighters, compared to the general population. Other late-onset cancers that impact 9/11 firefighters include lung cancer, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma. These cancers often have a latency period, which means they may not show up until years or even decades after the initial toxic exposure, underscoring the importance for 9/11 firefighters to seek routine cancer screening to ensure any signs of cancer are detected early.

Help Is Available for 9/11 Firefighters Fighting Late-Onset Cancers

For firefighters and other first responders battling late-onset cancer, help is available. Two programs were established under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (Zadroga Act) in order to support 9/11 responders and survivors. 

The WTC Health Program was established to offer no-cost medical monitoring and treatment for those affected by 9/11. The program provides comprehensive medical care to first responders and survivors, including 9/11 firefighters. This includes cancer care, mental health services, and medications. The program also provides support for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects many 9/11 responders. Research conducted by the WTCHP has been crucial in understanding the long-term health effects of 9/11. 

In addition to health services, the Zadroga Act established the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to provide financial compensation to individuals and family members who were affected by 9/11. The VCF compensates individuals for economic and noneconomic losses resulting from 9/11-related health conditions, including deaths from cancer or other 9/11 conditions.

Work with an Experienced 9/11 Attorney

Navigating the complexities of the WTC Health Program and the VCF can be challenging. An experienced 9/11 attorney can provide invaluable assistance, helping firefighters and their families access the benefits and compensation they are entitled to. Attorneys experienced in 9/11-related cases understand the intricacies of these programs and can guide you through the application process, ensuring that all necessary documentation is submitted and deadlines are met.

Legal representation can make a significant difference in securing compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs associated with late-onset cancers, especially noneconomic losses involving pain and suffering. At Hansen and Rosasco, LLP, our dedicated 9/11 attorneys are committed to helping 9/11 firefighters get the medical monitoring and treatment they need, and the maximum award for financial compensation for their individual circumstances. Contact us today for a free consultation.