Thyroid Cancer

The 9/11 Thyroid Cancer Connection

Thyroid cancer is one of the illnesses that the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has acknowledged could have been caused by the foul smoke that filled the air in lower Manhattan following the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The abnormally large particles of burned building materials such as asbestos were inhaled and swallowed, and in many cases overcame the body’s natural defenses. Because of this link, 9/11 thyroid cancer has been included in the list of cancers for which the VCF offers compensation. Since thyroid cancer has a latency period of 2-3 years after the initial exposure, those affected were not aware of the connection until long after Ground Zero had been cleaned up.

About Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland near the top of the windpipe. Its role is to produce hormones that regulate your body’s use of energy, as well as your breathing, heart rate, body temperature and the nervous system.

Thyroid cancer occurs when changes in the DNA cause out-of-control growth in the cells of the thyroid gland. Types of thyroid cancer include Papillary, Follicular, Anaplastic and Medullary.

There is currently no medical agreement about the main causes of thyroid cancer, although age and heredity appear to play a role. It is not a particularly common form of cancer in the general population.

Thyroid Cancer Symptoms

Reported symptoms that could indicate thyroid cancer include a pain near the throat, as well as a lump or swelling in the area. Trouble swallowing or breathing, or a constant cough, can also be indicators.

However lumps in the throat can have other, much less serious causes. Rely on your physician for a thorough evaluation.

Testing for thyroid cancer starts with a blood test, an ultrasound exam, or a radioiodine scan. If the doctor feels it is warranted, the next step is a biopsy, and the careful examination of cells removed from the suspicious area. That biopsy commonly can be conducted at the physician’s office.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment & Prognosis

Surgery to remove the tumor is one treatment for 9/11 thyroid cancer. Other options include hormone therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Those with thyroid cancer tend to respond successfully to treatment, since in most cases the problem is found early. In fact, of the 4 stages of 9/11 thyroid cancer, catching the disease in the first two stages offer a 5-year survival rate of nearly 100% – and most people live far longer.

However in some cases, the disease is found to return years later.

Learn more about thyroid cancer from the American Cancer Society.

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Compensation for 9/11 Thyroid Cancer Victims

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (part of The Zadroga Act) offers financial reimbursement for medical expenses and related costs associated with thyroid cancer that was caused by the 2001 terrorist attack.