Cancer in World Trade Center responders: Findings from multiple cohorts and options for future study

Am J Ind Med. 2016 Feb;59(2):96-105. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22555. Epub 2016 Jan 4.


Background: Three longitudinal studies of cancer incidence in varied populations of World Trade Center responders have been conducted.

Methods: We compared the design and results of the three studies.

Results: Separate analyses of these cohorts revealed excess cancer incidence in responders for all cancers combined and for cancers of the thyroid and prostate. Methodological dissimilarities included recruitment strategies, source of cohort members, demographic characteristics, overlap between cohorts, assessment of WTC and other occupational exposures and confounders, methods and duration of follow-up, approaches for statistical analysis, and latency analyses.

Conclusions: The presence of three cohorts strengthens the effort of identifying and quantifying the cancer risk; the heterogeneity in design might increase sensitivity to the identification of cancers potentially associated with exposure. The presence and magnitude of an increased cancer risk remains to be fully elucidated. Continued long-term follow up with minimal longitudinal dropout is crucial to achieve this goal.

Keywords: World Trade Center; cancer; cohort study; epidemiology; surveillance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Rescue Work / statistics & numerical data*
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Air Pollutants