An increased incidence of thyroid cancer among 9/11 rescue workers has been reported, the etiology of which remains unclear but which may, at least partly, be the result of the increased medical surveillance this group undergoes. This study aimed to investigate thyroid cancer in World Trade Center (WTC) responders by looking at the demographic data and questionnaire responses of thyroid cancer cases from the Mount Sinai WTC Health Program (WTCHP). WTCHP thyroid cancer tumors were of a similar size (p = 0.4), and were diagnosed at a similar age (p = 0.2) compared to a subset of thyroid cancer cases treated at Mount Sinai without WTC exposure. These results do not support the surveillance bias hypothesis, under which smaller tumors are expected to be diagnosed at earlier ages. WTCHP thyroid cancer cases also reported a past history of radiation exposure and a family history of thyroid conditions at lower rates than expected, with higher than expected rates of previous cancer diagnoses, family histories of other cancers, and high Body Mass Indexes (BMIs). Further research is needed to better understand the underlying risk factors that may play a role in the development of thyroid cancer in this group.
Keywords: 9/11 disaster; World Trade Center; surveillance bias; thyroid cancer.