Friday, June 1, 2007

First responders exposed to the cocktail of toxins | 06/01/2007 | World Trade Center crews face new round of afflictions: "

World Trade Center crews face new round of afflictions

Some 9/11 rescue workers are developing a cancer usually seen in older people.

NEW YORK | Some of the first responders exposed to the cocktail of toxins produced at the World Trade Center collapse are developing a form of cancer often seen in much older people.

One doctor calls it the “third wave” of disorders to emerge from the World Trade Center disaster.

Robin Herbert, co-director of the WTC Medical Monitoring Program at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, said a range of medical conditions had been detected since the program began in 2001, after the attacks on Sept. 11 of that year.

She and her colleagues are overseeing the health of 20,000 men and women who worked at the site in the weeks after the attack. Among them are firefighters, police officers, rescuers and construction workers.

Speaking Thursday in an interview aired online by The New England Journal of Medicine, Herbert said the medical conditions had been typified by specific disorders.

“The first wave is the acute respiratory problems that now in many have persisted,” she said. “The second wave is what seemed to be the interstitial lung diseases such as sarcoid granulomas.”

Sarcoid granulomas are small nodules on the lungs characterized by inflammatory cells.

“We are worried about the third wave, which is the possibility of cancer down the road,” she added, saying that some of the malignancies had already begun to appear.

“The group of cancers we’re most concerned about and that we’re focusing on right now are cancers of the hematologic system and lymphatic system, such as leukemias and lymphomas,” Herbert said.

“The kind of thing that worries us is that we know that we have a handful of cases of multiple myeloma in very young individuals, and multiple myeloma is a condition that almost always presents much later in life. So that’s the kind of odd, unusual, troubling finding that we’re seeing already.”

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cell in the blood and is an incurable disease, but symptoms can be treated.


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