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Cancer Occurrence Among 9/11 First Responders

Monday, September 17, 2012
The first responders who worked at the World Trade Center site following what is now simply known as “9/11” have asserted that many of them have developed, or are more likely to develop, significant medical conditions, including cancer.

The World Trade Center Health Program (WTC Health Program, was established by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 ( to provide healthcare coverage of 9/11-attributed medical conditions.  James Zadroga was a New York City Police Department officer who died from respiratory disease that was attributed to his role as a first responder at the WTC, and was the first death officially attributed to exposure to toxic chemicals at the site. The program provides services for responders, workers, and volunteers who helped with rescue, recovery, and cleanup at the WTC and related sites in New York City. It also provides services for survivors who lived, worked, or were in school in the New York City area. The Program has a website for enrollment that lists eligibility requirements, and is available at Enrollment for responders to the Pentagon and the Shanksville, PA crash sites is expected to open in late 2012, after eligibility guidelines and program benefits are defined. There is also a national program offering medical monitoring and treatment for responders who live outside the New York City metropolitan area.

The WTC Program noted that those who worked at the WTC site appeared to be at increased risk of cancer, especially thyroid cancer, melanoma, and lymphoma. According to a study released of nearly 10,000 New York firefighters (half of whom worked at the WTC site), those from the site are 32% more likely to have cancer. On September 10, 2012, the WTC Program announced that more than 50 types of cancer will now be covered by its healthcare program (most prior compensation was only for respiratory diseases caused by dust and debris). The cancers to be covered now include thyroid, head and neck, esophagus, stomach, liver, lung, colorectal, breast, ovary, kidney, bladder, leukemia, lymphoma, melanoma, mesothelioma, sarcoma, skin (melanoma and non-melanoma), rare cancers, and all childhood cancers. Cancers of the pancreas, prostate, and brain are not on the list of covered cancers.

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Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN
Blog Info
Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN is an oncology nursing consultant and editor-in-chief of Oncology Nursing News.
Author Bio
Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN, is the Editor-in-Chief for OncLive Nursing. She is an oncology nursing consultant and adjunct assistant professor of nursing at Louisiana State Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, LA. She provides continuing nursing education to nurses across the Unites States, is active in several professional nursing organizations, and is intrigued by the many ways nurses use technology to communicate.
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