NEW YORK — Cancers of the uterus will be officially added to the federal list of 9/11-related health conditions, after months of delays, the Daily News has learned.
The addition is expected to take place Wednesday after the rule change is published in the federal register, which contains updates to government agency rules, federal officials said.
The updated rule will add “malignant neoplasms of corpus uteri and uterus (uterine cancer) to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions,” according to a copy of the rule change shared with the News.
The change will go into effect 30 days after its publication in the federal register, officials from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said.
“I was thinking it should happen any day now and now it’s here,” an overjoyed Cheryl Hall told The News. Hall, a retired Con Edison worker, developed uterine cancer after breathing in the toxic air at ground zero. She spent 17 days at the site restoring power to lower Manhattan in the weeks following the terror attacks.
“I’m happy,” Hall said. “I hope that for all of those people who don’t have a voice, that this can help them.”
While women made up a small percentage of 9/11 first responders, many women either lived near the World Trade Center or, like Hall, helped in recovery efforts after the towers fell.
When she had to undergo surgery to remove a cancerous growth on the wall of her uterus on April 18, Hall was told she wasn’t going to get any federal assistance, even though all her doctors believed the cancer was 9/11 related.
“You got 90 cancers on this list, why wouldn’t this be one of them?” she asked.
At least 50 women who worked as responders at ground zero and those who lived or worked nearby have gotten uterine cancer. With this rule change, they will receive full coverage from the World Trade Center Health Program for past and future treatments.
Those who have developed uterine cancer will also be able to seek compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
“Todays announcement extending uterine cancer to the list of covered conditions is a step forward for the program as it continues to deal with the health impacts of so many 9/11 responders and survivors,” Benjamin Chevat, executive director of the 9/11 Health Watch, said.
The federal World Trade Center Health Program proposed adding cancers of the uterus to its list of health conditions last May. After going through a 45-day public review, it was expected to be added to the list by the beginning of June but was delayed so it could also undergo an independent review, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said.
Sources with knowledge of the issue said there were no public or scientific challenges, but unnecessary bureaucratic red tape slowed its approval as it slowly shuffled its way from one desk at the federal Department of Health and Human Services offices in Washington, to another before it going up to Secretary Xavier Becerra’s desk.
Hall believes that if men had uteruses, 9/11-survivors wouldn’t have gone through these hurdles.
“Had this been a man’s disease and a man could get uterine cancer, it would have been covered right away,” she said.