Men May Be Eligible for VCF Benefits if They Suffer from Male Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is not exclusively a female condition — men can also get breast cancer, and it is no less serious for men than it is for women. Since the collapse of the Twin Towers, researchers have confirmed a link between the resulting toxic dust of the building collapses and many types of cancer, including 9/11 male breast cancer. In an effort to assist survivors in their continued recovery, the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) were created to help the victims suffering from illness, injury, and disease – including 9/11 male breast cancer – related to the 9/11 attacks. These programs provide funding for medical treatment and additional healthcare services to September 11th survivors. If you or a loved one suffer from male breast cancer, contact a 9/11 benefits attorney at Pitta & Baione to discuss your eligibility for benefits from the VCF and WTCHP.
9/11 Male Breast Cancer Certified Under WTCHP
While breast cancer in females is more common, the disease also inflicts males. Although a rare cancer, male breast cancer in 9/11 survivors is covered under the WTCHP. There are special certification requirements for cancer coverage under the program, so working with a 9/11 benefits attorney will help you file your 9/11 male breast cancer claim while adhering to all the guidelines and regulations governing the program.
How Can Men Get Breast Cancer?
Men can get breast cancer because they have breast tissue. Until they reach puberty, both girls and boys have small amounts of breast tissue consisting of ducts under the nipple and areola (the area around the nipple). At puberty, girls’ ovaries produce female hormones, which cause the breast ducts to grow and lobules (the glands that produce milk) to form at the end of the ducts. Because boys produce low levels of female hormones, their breast tissue doesn’t grow very much, with men’s breast tissue having ducts but only a few (if any) lobules. Male breast ducts and lobules are normally non-functional.
Cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control and form a tumor. The tumor is malignant if the cells invade surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of the body. There are two main types of male breast cancer:
- Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC): Starts in the breast duct and then break through the wall and invade the fatty breast tissue
- Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC): Starts in the lobules (the glands that produce milk) and can spread to other parts of the body
Once the cancerous cells make it into the blood or lymph system, they can then be carried to other parts of the body.
Causes of 9/11 Male Breast Cancer
The precise cause of male breast cancer is unknown. However, certain factors can increase an individual’s risk of getting it, such as:
- Age: The risk of breast cancer goes up as a man ages; the average age for breast cancer diagnosis in men is 72 years.
- Family history of breast cancer: About 1 in 5 men with breast cancer have a close relative (male or female) with breast cancer.
- Inherited gene mutations: Certain gene mutations inherited from their parents, such as BRCA2, BRCA1, CHEK2, PTEN, and PALB2, can increase men’s risk of breast cancer.
- Acquired gene mutations: Gene mutations that occur during a man’s life can put him at increased risk of breast cancer. The most common causes of acquired gene mutations are exposure to radiation and cancer-causing chemicals in the environment.
While these conditions can increase the risk of male breast cancer, most men with breast cancer have no apparent risk factors.
Symptoms of 9/11 Male Breast Cancer
Symptoms of male breast cancer are very similar to those of female breast cancer. The most common are:
- Breast lumps, which usually:
- Occur only in one breast
- Grow near the nipple
- Are usually painless
- Feel hard or rubbery
- Do not move around with the breast
- Feel bumpy rather than smooth
- Grow larger over time
- The nipple turning inwards
- Fluid oozing from the nipple
- A sore or rash around the nipple
- The skin surrounding the nipple becomes hard, red, or swollen
- Swollen glands in the armpit
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. For help finding a doctor who specializes in treating 9/11-related medical conditions, please contact a 9/11 male breast cancer lawyer.
Treatments for Male Breast Cancer
There are many treatments available for 9/11 male breast cancer, although each treatment comes with its own risks and rewards. Some of the most common are:
- Surgery to remove the cancer (either a mastectomy, in which the entire breast is removed or breast-conserving surgery (BCS), in which only the part of the breast containing the cancer is removed)
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapy
These treatments can take a significant toll on the patient, both physically, emotionally, and financially. And even if they are successful, there is still a risk that the cancer could recur or that another form of cancer could develop.
Are 9/11 Survivors and First Responders at Risk of Male Breast Cancer?
Cancer is one of the most common 9/11-related conditions among survivors and first responders. In fact, almost 40% of all compensation determinations made by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) involved cancer claims in 2019. There is also early evidence to suggest that 9/11 survivors and first responders may be at an increased risk of developing male breast cancer. As reported in the New York Post, at least 15 men who were in the vicinity of Ground Zero have been identified and diagnosed with breast cancer. However, this date is incomplete due to the comparative rarity of breast cancer among men. It is also likely an undercount, given that breast cancer symptoms typically manifest only after many years of latency. Thus, it is likely that male breast cancer will continue to rise among 9/11 first-responders and survivors in the coming years.
Are Men with 9/11-Related Breast Cancer Eligible for VCF Benefits?
Male and female breast cancers are both covered conditions under the WTC Health Program (the agency that certifies conditions as being 9/11-related for VCF compensation). Male breast cancer is considered a “rare cancer,” which is any type of cancer that occurs in less than 15 cases per 100,000 persons per year. While any rare cancer may be considered for certification, male breast cancer is explicitly included in the category, making men with 9/11-related breast cancer eligible for VCF benefits.
Contact a 9/11 Male Breast Cancer Lawyer for More Information
For more information about 9/11-related male breast cancer and whether it entitles you to VCF benefits, please contact a 9/11 male breast cancer lawyer at Pitta & Baione by using our online contact form or by calling us at 212-658-1766.
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