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9/11 Responders May Be At Raised Myeloma Risk
Date:8/10/2009

Cases are appearing at a younger age than is normal, researchers note

MONDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Preliminary findings suggest that responders to the attacks on the Twin Towers on 9/11 may be at higher risk for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood.

Notably, half of the cases identified among law enforcement officers were under the age of 45. Multiple myeloma is usually a disease of the elderly.

"This is very preliminary," cautioned Dr. Mitchell Smith, director of the Lymphoma Service at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. "It could turn out to be a statistical fluke and means nothing or it could be the tip of the iceberg and we'll see an increase in the next 10 years," he said.

"The concerning thing," he added, "is it makes biological sense. There is certain data that multiple myeloma is associated with an increased exposure to certain chemicals. It has never been shown with inhaled chemicals but this amount of exposure probably did get into the blood." Smith was not involved in the study.

"Practitioners should be on the lookout for unusual disease patterns," added Dr. Jacqueline Moline, lead author of the report, which appears in the August issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. "Multiple myeloma is usually a disease that occurs in the seventh or eighth decade of life. A person is 10 times more likely to get myeloma when they're 70 than when they're 45 or 48. Clinicians should be sensitized to patients coming in with unusual symptoms. They should think broadly."

And that includes being on the alert for other types of cancers as well, added Moline, who is director of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "Time is really going to give us the answer in terms of other exposures," she said.

Rescue workers were heavily exposed to a toxic chemical soup released f
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