Twenty years after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, the association between exposures present at the World Trade Center (WTC) site and the risk of several specific types of cancer has been reported among rescue and recovery workers. The authors' objective was to conduct an updated review of these data. Most studies have found elevated rates of both prostate and thyroid cancers compared with rates in the general population, and some have reported statistically significant differences for the rates of all cancers as well. Studies including a larger combined cohort of WTC-exposed rescue and recovery workers from 3 main cohorts have since replicated findings for these cancers, with additional years of follow-up. Among this combined cohort, although a lower-than-expected standardized incidence ratio for all cancers was observed, WTC exposure was also related to an increased risk of cutaneous melanoma and tonsil cancer. Importantly, another study found that WTC-exposed rescue and recovery workers who are enrolled in the federally funded medical monitoring and treatment program experienced improved survival post-cancer diagnosis compared with New York state patients with cancer. On the basis of these combined cohort studies, the full effect of WTC exposure on cancer risk is becoming clearer. Consequently, the authors believe that surveillance of those with WTC exposure should be continued, and in-depth analysis of epidemiologic, molecular, and clinical aspects of specific cancers in these workers should be pursued.
- September 11 terrorist attacks
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