Each year, about 35,000 Americans are diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a common blood cancer. This is a scary disease. Doctors estimate a 58% chance of survival five years after diagnosis. Recently published cohort studies show that there is an increased risk among 9/11 first responders and rescuers of developing monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and its subtypes, which are the precursors to multiple myeloma.
What Causes Monoclonal Gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
To date, researchers have not been able to determine why multiple myeloma and MGUS occur with such great regularity. The authors of the recently published study point to other studies which suggest that people who are exposed to known airborne carcinogens run a greater risk of developing the disease. Specifically, exposure to carcinogens like polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), dioxins, asbestos, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) increase a person’s chances of developing MGUS. And first responders and rescuers inhaled these carcinogens, and others, on 9/11 and in the following months.
The MGUS researchers explained how first responders and rescuers exposed themselves to these harmful compounds. They stated that the collapsing World Trade Center towers and subsequent fires propelled toxic dust and gas from the pulverized buildings into the atmosphere. The researchers also accounted for excessive diesel exhaust from heavy equipment around Ground Zero, which contributed to the toxic air.
9/11 victims 3 times more likely for MGUS symptoms
The study compared firefighters and rescue and recovery workers from Ground Zero to a group of men from Minnesota. The study concluded that rescue and recovery workers were twice as likely to have MGUS and 3.5 times as likely to have an MGUS subtype as the control group. Accounting for as many variables among the groups as possible –such as race, age, smoking history, and body mass index (BMI) –the researchers concluded that the firefighters who worked at Ground Zero developed MGUS approximately 12 years earlier than the control group from Minnesota.
The average age of the men who worked at Ground Zero with MGUS was 57, while the average age of the control group was 69. The results from the study further determined that 71% of the firefighters had CD-20 plasma cells. It should be noted that CD-20 plasma cells indicate a poor prognosis in MGUS and multiple myeloma patients.
The researchers understand the limitations of their work. They are confident, however, that they found conclusive evidence which proves that exposure to the toxic dust in the air at Ground Zero is associated with 9/11 MGUS.
WTCHP helps survival rates for MGUS victims
The study’s authors provided a glimmer of hope for patients who are at risk of developing 9/11-related MGUS. They mentioned a study which demonstrated that WTC first responders and workers with cancer who enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) had a better survival rate than New York State’s population.
The researchers suggested that the cancer survival rate among those who enrolled in the WTCHP is higher because this program reduces barriers to screening and treatment, and requires no out-of-pocket expenses for patients. The researchers strongly recommend that everyone exposed to WTC airborne toxins receive screening for 9/11-related MGUS to increase survival rates.
Enrolling in the WTCHP could save your life
Although MGUS is still not covered, 9/11 myeloma is one of the many forms of cancer covered by the WTCHP. In some cases, you do not have to wait for MGUS to develop into cancer before enrolling in the program. Registering in the WTCHP provides you with life-saving medical surveillance and treatment and allows you to file a claim for financial compensation with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). Compensation is only available to those people who successfully enroll in the WTCHP.
Legal help for 9/11 myeloma patients is available
If you or a family member has myeloma and has suffered from 9/11 toxin exposure, you may have the right to apply for financial compensation. The 9/11 lawyers from Pitta & Baione LLP have recovered over $300 million for 9/11 victims and their families. Contact us today by going online or calling 844-982-2667. We are here for you 24/7 to assess your eligibility for healthcare and financial benefits.