Uterine cancer could be added to list of 9/11 health issues

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When the World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11, 2001, survivors breathed in toxic dust, and first responders and cleanup workers, deployed in large numbers, worked among the dangerous rubble. More than 20 years after the attacks, the health consequences of their stay at Ground Zero continue to worsen.

The World Trade Center Health Program, a government program that monitors and treats WTC-related health issues, covers almost all types of cancer. But only one type was ever added to his list: uterine cancer.

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That could soon change. Officials have proposed adding uterine cancer to the list of cancers covered by the program, and the rule change is in its final stages.

Uterine cancer accounts for 3.4% of all new cancer cases nationwide and will cause about 12,550 deaths this year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Uterine and endometrial cancers can be caused by the endocrine disrupting substances found at Ground Zero. So far, however, data on the number of people affected is scarce.

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This is partly due to the mix of first responders and cleanups; an estimated 15 percent are women. Additionally, a scientific advisory committee has concluded that there may be other selection biases in health-related study enrollment among the WTC-related population.

This “makes it unlikely that a definitive association between 9/11 exposure and uterine cancer can be identified over the lifetimes of even the most exposed program members,” the health program said. WTC in a statement. Nonetheless, the scientific advisers and program administrator say there is enough evidence to conclude that a plausible link exists between dust and other WTC chemicals and uterine cancer.

The effort is supported by patients, caregivers, advocacy groups, doctors and more than a dozen members of Congress.

“I had already written up several studies that had shown an excess of all cancers in responders, and we knew that many of the chemicals that people had been exposed to were endocrine disruptors that could lead to this type of cancer” , said Iris Udasin, who directs Rutgers University’s World Trade Center Medical Treatment and Surveillance Program and has treated many of the first responders and cancer survivors, in a press release.

The proposed change can be found in the Federal Register and is open for public comment until June 26.

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