Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosis among members of the World Trade Center Health Program. As discussed in our recent blog posts, it is estimated that 500,000 people were exposed to WTC dust and 9/11 toxins on, and in the months following, September 11, 2001. Of the 500,000 people exposed, only 75,000 have enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program.
In 2013, epidemiologists reviewed data on 20,984 responders collected by the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital between 2001 and 2008. The study revealed that responders were diagnosed with prostate cancer at a rate 17 percent higher than the general population. Prompted in part by the results of this study, in May 2013 the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association petitioned the World Trade Center Health Program Administrator Dr. John Howard to include prostate cancer on the list of covered conditions. Prior to this petition, the World Trade Center Health Program covered over 60 other forms of cancer, but not prostate. Dr. Howard reviewed the study, along with additional research showing increased prevalence of prostate cancer among the exposed population, and decided to add it to the list of covered conditions on July 2, 2013.
New research shows that prostate cancer is being diagnosed at an unexpected, alarming rate among men who worked at or around Ground Zero. Specifically, three consecutive studies reveal a diagnosis rate higher than that of the general population. The September issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, which was dedicated entirely to 9/11-related illnesses, included a study of 24,000 responders that revealed prostate cancer as the most common form of cancer. The study detailed 685 cancer diagnoses. Prostate cancer accounted for nearly 33% of all male illnesses.
Dr. Michael Crane, director of the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital, commented “We are seeing some very young men with prostate cancer. The youngest one is 34. Some guys have walked through the door of our center with very advanced-stage disease, and I can tell you this is something that is very rough on their families.”