NEW YORK — As the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks approaches, a government program designed to help survivors receive health care is seeing a dramatic increase in cancer patients.
“That’s triple the number of people enrolled with cancer diagnoses since January 2014, when 1,822 had signed up,” CNN’s Laura Ly noted on Monday.
CDC figures show a total of 6,378 separate cancer diagnoses, as many of the program’s members suffer from multiple kinds of cancer.
Dr. Michael Crane, medical director of the WTC Health Program at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, told The New York Post that the increase in program members is “alarming.”
“It’s been steady for at least the last year and a half — we’re seeing new people here being certified for cancer 10 to 15 times week. That’s every week,” he told Susan Edelman on Sunday.
CDC officials told CNN that although they stand by their figures, it’s important to note that not every new enrollee is suffering from a newly diagnosed case of cancer thanks to ongoing outreach efforts.
Watch “9/11 still claiming lives 10 years later” from CBS:
“It’s possible that the person had already been diagnosed and wanted to get treatment through the program,” said Christy Spring, a public affairs specialist for the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. “Other members may have enrolled to get compensation through [the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund], and there are some new enrollees who are potentially new cancer cases.”
The 15 years since 9/11 have taken a heavy toll on the health of survivors, including office workers and staff of the twin towers, first responders who took part in rescue efforts, and the cleanup crew that worked to clear the rubble.
One of the most high-profile cases is that of Marcy Borders, a legal assistant who worked at Bank of America’s offices on the 81st floor of 1 World Trade Center. She became known as the “dust lady” after Stan Honda, a photojournalist for Agence France-Presse, took a photo of her covered in dust after the attack. Borders died of stomach cancer in August 2015.
The lasting effects of 9/11 aren’t limited to cancer, though. The CDC reports that nearly 75,000 people have enrolled in the WTC Health Program, including 12,500 with mental health issues and over 32,000 with cases of serious respiratory or digestive system issues.
Watch “9/11 ‘Dust Lady’ dies from stomach cancer aged 42” from ITV News:
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