Federal Government Expands List of 9/11 Terrorist Attack-Associated Cancers

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(ChemotherapyAdvisor) –  The US government will add 50 types of cancer to its list of formally-recognized illnesses associated with exposures to carcinogen-laden dusts at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The US National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) announced Monday that it will expand the list to include leukemias, lymphomas, myeloma, and cancers of the lungs, mouth and respiratory tract, larynx, digestive and urinary tracts, colorectum, thyroid, breast, liver, soft tissues (sarcomas), among others. Because of the presence of asbestos in the Ground Zero dusts, mesothelioma will also be added to the list. Other unspecified rare and childhood cancers will also be added to the list.

The move allows workers and survivors diagnosed with these cancers after working at the attack sites to receive free monitoring and health care services under the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Under the Act, survivors of workers who died of these cancers will now be eligible for federal compensation.

The full list of cancers will appear in the Federal Register this week and will become effective on October 10, 2012.

The epidemiological case for a causal link between Ground Zero dusts and specific cancers is, in most cases, scant and controversial. A 2011 study published in The Lancet found an overall 19% to 32% increased risk of cancer among first responders who had worked at the World Trade Center Ground Zero site. (The study reported a Standardized Incidence Ratio [SIR] of 1.32 [95% CI, 1.07-1.62] for all cancers, which fell to an SIR of 1.19 [CI, 0.96-1.47] after statistical correction for possible surveillance bias.)

Ten years is an early point at which to assess many cancers, which have much longer latency periods between exposures and cancer diagnosis, the authors cautioned.

An estimated 1,000 first-responders have died of cancer and other diseases in the 11 years since the 9/11 attacks, including 64 members of the New York Fire Department. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was capped by Congress at $2.77 billion.

New York City Police Department Detective James Zadroga, after whom the compensation Act is named, died of respiratory disease in 2006, after helping with rescue efforts in the days following the attacks.

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