By Alison Gendar
An advisory medical panel Wednesday recommended more than 30 different kinds of cancers be covered by the Zadroga 9/11 health care act for those injured and sickened by their exposure to Ground Zero toxins.
The panel found there was scientific evidence to justify the covering a range of cancers - from lung and blood to breast, eye and digestive track - among the diseases covered for both medical treatment and disability compensation, officials said.
But the panel refused to recommend brain, prostate and pancreatic cancer for lack of scientific evidence.
The final decision on which cancers to include now rests with Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
"This is round 3 in a 15-round fight," said first-responder and World Trade Center advocate John Feal. "It's a victory that they added what they did. By the end, I think the right cancers will be on the list."
Advocates had feared the panel would shrink from including a broad range of cancers out of fear that it would more quickly eat-up the $1.5 billion fund for medical treatment or the $2.8 billion set aside to compensate those disabled from their time working, or living near the World Trade Center site. Cancer was not include in the original legislation passed by Congress in 2010 on the grounds that, at the time, there was not a scientific link between cancer and Ground Zero exposure.
"Scientific evidence finally has caught up with what we've long known - that the toxins from the collapse of the World Trade Center towers are linked directly to increased cancer rates among 9/11 responders and survivors," said a joint statement by New York Congress members Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King.