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article imageMesothelioma and the unspoken death sentence of 9/11 survivors

By Nancy Houser     Sep 11, 2011 in Environment
New York - Over 400,000 tons of asbestos blew into New York on September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the Manhattan Twin Towers, killing over 2,500 people. First responders and fleeing survivors were immediately put at risk for mesothelioma cancer.
According to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, over 111,000 individuals who were lucky enough to survive on that eventful day may still be in danger. The PR Web reports that this includes fleeing survivors, firefighters, first responders and bystanders---people who today may be unaware of the developing disease inside their bodies.
In 1971, the World Trade Center had already been declared a hazardous pollutant because of the amount of asbestos installed for its insulation and fireproofing, in addition to lining the walls of the lower floors of the Twin Towers. The release of so much asbestos and a diagnosis of mesothelioma cancer makes this a double tragedy in the lives of Ground Zero survivors.
Discovery’s Edge, a Mayo Clinic online research magazine, reports that mesothelioma is a fatal cancer that attacks the lining of the chest cavity, a worldwide rising disease because of airborne particles of asbestos---located in old insulation, building materials, textiles, auto parts and the inhalation of silicate particles. In addition to 9/11, high numbers of mesothelioma are developing in Minnesota’s northern Iron Range region because of taconite mining.
Because of the increased diagnoses of mesothelioma in that area, the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic have collaborated to work on a new and unique therapeutic approach aimed at mesothelioma---which will help 9/11 survivors already diagnosed with the disease.
“We’ve taken a new viral agent, repositioned it for this disease and are advancing it toward the clinic as an entirely novel treatment,” says Stephen Russell, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic molecular researcher in the PB Web article.
National Cancer Institute
According to Mesotheliomasettlement12.wordpress, additional developments in mesothelioma research are new agents and chemotherapy combinations; computer tomography scans to determine the location of the tumors for better cytoreduction; inhibitors of angiogenesis; and photodynamic therapy (PDT) that uses a photosensitizer.
One of the more current developments for mesothelioma, a photosensitizer is a whole body drug that will attach to cancer cells for longer periods. It then produces active oxygen when exposed to a certain light wavelength, destroying all the adjacent cells.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is under-reported at a time when MARF is the only source of adequate information and patient support services. This makes funding for mesothelioma research insufficient at a time when it is desperately needed.
A new study was published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, of 10,000 of the many firefighters who were exposed to the smoke and caustic dust of the 9/11 incident. It was found that these exposed firefighters were 19% more likely to develop cancer than those who were not near the towers on that day.
The findings indicate an “increased likelihood for the development of any type of cancer,” said Dr. David J. Prezant, the chief medical officer for the New York Fire Department, who led the study. But he said the results were far from conclusive. “This is not an epidemic,” he said.
This article is part of Digital Journal's project to remember September 11. If you have a story to tell, join us on Facebook and Twitter, and post your memories to Digital Journal. Full details on how to participate can be found here. You can also read other submissions on our September 11 Anniversary page.
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