9/11 health program covers uterine cancer treatment

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Health organizations like Penn Medicine provide other kinds of specialty care to local responders and survivors through the program’s National Provider Network.

The program’s list of certified World Trade Center-related health conditions includes traumatic injuries like burns and head trauma, airway disorders like asthma and sleep apnea, mental health conditions, and cancers.

Research shows that first responders to attack sites in lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, have a heightened risk of developing cancer because of their exposure to forever chemicals and toxins.

But uterine cancer was left off the list of covered conditions, until now. Udasin said that’s partly due to the fact that it took longer to identify the cancer as a related consequence, because there were fewer cases compared to other types of cancers.

“Just think about who most of the responders are — they’re firefighters, construction workers, police officers, and some communication workers,” she said. “There are women in those groups, but not a lot.”

For several years, Udasin joined other researchers and public health experts who called on federal officials to add uterine cancer to the list so that responders who were diagnosed with the disease could benefit from no-cost treatment.

“While we originally looked at individual types of cancers, the moral of the story is, it’s best to look at cancer as all cancer, even if an individual cancer may have another risk factor,” Udasin said.

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