9/11 Skin Cancer

FEMA photo of toxic dust and debris at Ground Zero with 2 workers on pile and American flag.

Many 9/11 Skin Cancers Are Eligible for Compensation

The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), the government healthcare program for victims of the September 11th attacks, reports that they have treated over 7,000 members diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer. This cancer may go unnoticed by patients in its early stages because cancerous skin lesions can resemble a harmless birthmark, mole, skin tag or wart. Early detection of non-melanoma skin cancer is the best first step in combating this illness.

29% OF World Trade Center Health Program members have been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer

The non-melanoma skin cancers that are eligible for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (9/11 VCF) include:

  • Angiosarcoma
  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma
  • Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Sebaceous carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin
  • Diagram showing the ABCDE signs of melanoma
    The warning signs of skin cancer

    The ABC’s of Self Detection

    • A – Asymmetry, irregular shape
    • B – Border, uneven and jagged
    • C – Color, contains various colors
    • D – Diameter, large size
    • E – Evolving, physically changing

    What are the causes of 9/11 non-melanoma skin cancer?

    Many people do not go for early-detection screenings because they don’t consider themselves at risk of developing skin cancer - mainly they are not frequently out in the sun. Non-melanoma skin cancer is often mistakenly regarded as a disease that is solely caused by overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. However, several other factors can also contribute to the development of non-melanoma skin cancer. The risk of developing this cancer increases with age, genetic predisposition, exposure to environmental agents or a combination of these factors.

    FEMA photo of toxic dust and debris at Ground Zero with 2 workers on pile and American flag.
    Workers exposed to toxic dust on the pile at Ground Zero

    Could exposure to Ground Zero toxins cause 9/11 non-melanoma New York skin cancer?

    Environmental contributors like pollution can lead to the development of certain forms of cancer. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, many carcinogens were emitted into the air, and eventually this toxic dust settled onto nearby buildings and in surrounding neighborhoods. Dangerous levels of carcinogens continued to be present in those areas for more than nine months after the terrorist attacks. Air-quality tests performed in Lower Manhattan during that period detected over 2,500 various chemicals. Among the pollutants were arsenic, asbestos, and benzene (a component of jet fuel). These cancerous substances were detected throughout the vast New York City (NYC) Exposure Zone.

    Does the VCF provide compensation for non-melanoma skin cancer?

    The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) accepts claims from anyone who spent some amount of time within any of the exposure sites during the nine months following the terrorist attacks and has been diagnosed with a certified 9/11-related cancer, including non-melanoma skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among the 9/11 community. Responders and survivors who have or have had non-melanoma skin cancer may qualify to receive compensation from the VCF.

    Physician examining a patient for non-melanoma skin cancer.
    Dermatologist performing a skin cancer screening

    What are the symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer?

    In its early stages, non-melanoma skin cancer is typically a painless, symptom-free disease that silently advances its progression. This cancer is generally discovered by the patient or during a skin-cancer screening by a healthcare provider.

    Physical signs of skin cancer may include changes in the skin’s color or texture. Cancerous lesions may also express fluids.

    Some skin cancers occur under the skin’s surface and can spread through nerve pathways. When this happens, patients may experience itching, burning, tingling or numbness. Some patients also describe the sensation of bugs moving under their skin.

    The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) screens its members for cancers. Whether you have been diagnosed with an illness or not, the WTCHP recommends that anyone who was at a 9/11 exposure site during the qualifying time frame register with the WTCHP. Doing so will allow victims to receive free health monitoring, evaluations and if necessary, treatment for their 9/11-related illnesses.

    What are the most common forms of non-melanoma skin cancer?

    • Basal cell carcinoma
    • Squamous cell carcinoma
    Charles Allard managed my WTC-VCF claim for Basel cell carcinoma. He was knowledgeable and responsive to any questions I put to him. I would highly recommend Kreindler & Kreindler.
    ~ Richard Edwards | September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Client

    What is basal cell carcinoma?

    This form of skin cancer occurs within the basal cells that produce new skin cells. Basal cell carcinoma frequently appears on the head and neck. This type of cancer may begin as a waxy or translucent lump on the skin, and blood vessels can be visible through the upper layer.

    The recurrence rate for basal cell carcinoma is high and patients are at a greater risk of developing other cancers, including squamous cell carcinoma.

    What is squamous cell carcinoma?

    This common cancer affects squamous cells found throughout the body and is known for their flat shape. Squamous cell carcinoma can form in a number of areas on the skin. The lesions sometimes display unique physical features such as a crusted edge or a firm, red nodule and may express fluids.

    Although this cancer is not typically lethal, it can be aggressive, spreading to other areas of the body.

    How is non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed?

    A biopsy is a common method used for diagnosing if a lesion is non-melanoma skin cancer and of which variety. Typically, biopsies require a small incision to obtain a tissue sample that is then examined under a microscope.

    A diagnosis in the primary stages of any cancer increases a physician’s ability to successfully treat patients. The WTCHP provides cancer screenings and diagnostic assessments, including laboratory testing, imaging, and biopsies, to any eligible member. If you have been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer and were present at a 9/11 exposure site, you may also qualify for financial assistance from the 9/11 VCF.

    Are you eligible to collect
    9/11 Cancer Compensation?

    How is non-melanoma skin cancer treated?

    Determining the form and stage of non-melanoma skin cancer are the initial steps in treating the disease. In the primary stages of skin cancer, minor surgery is frequently used to remove cancerous tissue. The Mohs surgical technique is a precise procedure used to progressively remove individual layers of cancerous skin, microscopically examining each and stopping only once reaching healthy tissue.

    Non-melanoma skin cancer can also be treated without surgery using topical creams or liquid nitrogen.

    Advanced skin cancer may require more invasive treatments and treatment by an oncologist - a cancer specialist. Physicians may utilize targeted drug therapies and/or chemotherapy to actively fight an aggressive or later-stage cancer.

    My cancer came to me from the World Trade Center tragedy. I got info that I can get compensated for my injury. Kreindler & Kreindler contacted me right away. All other lawyers have called me within a few weeks. I met a very professional, responsible and dedicated team. Mr. Noah Kushlefsky (lawyer) and Rashad Ali (paralegal) personally spent time with me to explain, to get into my personal details, to share all important information. I was in touch with Rashad as many times as l had to. He was always professional, polite and knowledgeable. I got my case submitted and approved within 3 months. Thanks to Kreindler & Kreindler team so very much.
    ~ Marina Vaysman | September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Client

    Do you need an attorney to file a 9/11 VCF claim?

    Although the program does not require that a victim have legal representation when filing a claim, it certainly has many advantages to DIY. An attorney experienced with the Fund can simplify the complicated filing process, help establish required proof of presence, ensure that deadlines are met and advise on appropriate or expected compensation for particular illnesses. In a nutshell, an attorney can help the experience be successful and work toward the highest award that a victim is entitled to receive.

    The filing process includes stringent requirements and deadlines - failing to comply with any of the VCF’s conditions may cause a qualified claim to be denied. An attorney can assist victims to ensure that their claim is filed in a timely, accurate, and complete manner, potentially avoiding a denial.

    If a claim is denied, an attorney can help file an amended claim to appeal the denial.

    The VCF team at Kreindler also frequently amends claims once new health issues are diagnosed.

    Have you been diagnosed
    with non-melanoma skin cancer?

    How do you choose the right VCF attorney?

    At Kreindler & Kreindler, all September 11th Victim Compensation Fund clients are assigned a case manager who will manage the case during the entire process. They are available to answer questions and explain the VCF process and help you understand what to expect and when. Kreindler & Kreindler LLP is honored to have represented thousands of 9/11 cancer victims since 2001.

    Partner Noah Kushlefsky and Kreindler's dedicated 9/11 VCF team

    Our team is thoroughly familiar with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund - and we use our knowledge and experience to secure compensation for 9/11 victims. The Kreindler VCF team only works on 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund claims. The team is led by Kreindler managing partner Noah Kushlefsky, a highly respected September 11th ligation attorney who has been credited with originally helping to design the techniques used by the VCF to determine award calculation. Noah filed Kreindler’s first VCF claim in 2001 and he along with Kreindler’s 9/11 legal team is responsible for collecting over $4 billion on behalf of 9/11 victims and their families.

    During Kreindler’s decades of service to September 11th victims, it has been our privilege to earn their trust and share the burden of their post-9/11 struggles. The suffering and vulnerability of our clients fuel our fight. Having helped thousands of 9/11 victims, Kreindler respects that each of our September 11th clients has suffered differing losses. We know that these first responders and survivors are still experiencing damage to their health and personal lives. Their cases are challenging and unique, but our approach remains unchanged, performing our best work to obtain the maximum VCF award on behalf of every victim.