New York Post
August 13, 2006

WTC Sick Monitor to Focus on Cancer

By SUSAN EDELMAN

August 13, 2006—The World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program, criticized for focusing mainly on respiratory problems, is now gathering data on 9/11 responders who have come down with cancers and other serious diseases possibly linked to toxic exposure, The Post has learned.

Doctors in the program at Mount Sinai Hospital have gotten a go-ahead to collect the data from 16,000 WTC rescue and recovery workers on their reported cancers, pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis, thyroid disorders, kidney disease and new-onset heart disease.

"We don't want it to be a program that waits 25 years and then says, 'Gee, wasn't it terrible what happened to everybody?' " said Jim Melius, chairman of the program's steering committee, and a health and safety administrator with the state laborers union.

"It's important to have a way to keep track of everything the workers are reporting, and to be responsive. Maybe the program needs to provide different testing to address those problems," Melius said.

The program tests mainly for respiratory and mental-health problems, referring workers to outside doctors if other medical problems are detected.

The steering committee, composed of labor-union representatives, last week gave Mount Sinai doctors Jacqueline Moline and Michael Crane a green light to do a report on the new data, expected to come out in early September.

The project was spurred, Melius said, by the city Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which The Post reported was frustrated at a lack of information from the WTC program.

Several weeks ago, the PBA launched its own online medical registry. To date, 97 officers who served at Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills landfill have signed on, listing their age and diagnoses, including cancers, kidney disease, heart attacks and other severe conditions.

"The benefit to the patient is that they will be better informed of the diseases that have been reported by other participants in the program," Moline and Crane wrote in their proposal.

susan.edelman@nypost.com