07 March 2014

Fridays from the Archives: Cancer Surveillance & 9/11

Friday, March 7, 2014: Cancer Surveillance & 9/11

Whenever there is a mass casualty event the full, long-term effects may not be clear for years. After the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) quickly realized that there was a risk for excess cancer to anyone exposed to the area surrounding the World Trade Center. In September 2012 Jiehui Li, MBBS, MS, Steven D. Stellman, PhD, MPH, and James E. Cone, MD, MPH recapped NYC DOHMH's current state of post-exposure risk surveillance in the webinar, Association between WTC exposure and excess cancer risk.

Specifically focused on three types of cancer (prostate, thyroid, and multiple myeloma), this presentation provides background on the 3-wave survey methodology used to gather risk information. The type of exposure incurred on 9/11 is fairly well known and includes PAH, benzene, PCBs and asbestos. However, dosage information is unknown and latency periods for most cancers are long, complicating the conclusion of a link between exposure and subsequent cancer cases.

The webinar focuses mainly on methodology, results, strengths, and limitations. Key to the success of this project, though, is the fact that NYC DOHMH began surveillance within a year of the causal event.  This type of forward thinking allowed a comprehensive approach to monitoring the health of people exposed to 9/11 contagions.

For more information, and to view the full set of slides and webinar recording, please visit the webinar page on the ISDS website.

This post is part of the series Fridays from the Archives. You can access all posts in the series here.

Written by Becky Zwickl, MPH, ISDS Public Health Analyst (bzwickl@syndromic.org).

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