NEW YORK, July 28 (UPI) -- More than 2,500 of the responders to the 9/11 attacks and Ground Zero workers have been diagnosed with cancer as a result of their exposure at the site.
The New York Post reported that the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City recently tallied 1,655 responders in the World Trade Center Health program who have cancer as a result of their work at Ground Zero. The 1,655 is among the police, hard hats, sanitation workers, other city employees and volunteers under the program's supervision.
That number rises to 2,518 when paramedics and firefighters are included -- the FDNY announced 863 cancer patients in their last tally Friday.
"I'm hoping they rush more cases like mine, where we're not expected to last long," said a retired FDNY captain who received an expedited payment of $1.5 million to treat lung disease and inoperable pancreatic cancer.
"They couldn't take it out without killing me," the 63-year-old former firefighter said. "I was a very active guy. Now there's not much I can do."
He commandeered a city bus on 9/11 and closed the Brooklyn Bridge so he and his team could get to the towers to join the search and rescue efforts.
"I knew that day that a lot of us would get sick," he told the Post.
Only 881 of 1,145 claims for compensation from the VCF for cancer have been approved. The rest remain under review. Those who qualify for payouts from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund won't receive the rest of their money until 2016 -- 15 years after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The VCF expects many more victims and their families to come forward before the October 12 deadline for cancer-related claims. They did not comment on how many have died.