Although it is a fairly rare cancer, thyroid cancer was one of the most prevalent 9/11-related diseases to emerge among WTC responders and Ground Zero rescue and recovery workers. The disease has a very short latency period of only 2.5 years after exposure, so it wasn’t very surprising to see thyroid cancer get a jump on slowly developing “solid” cancers, which generally take four years to develop, and mesothelioma, which usually takes at least 11 years. However, individuals who have had 9/11-related thyroid cancer diagnoses and treatment should be vigilant in guarding against a recurrence of the disease.
As many as 35 percent of thyroid cancer patients experience a recurrence within 40 years of their initial treatment, and only about 67 percent of those recurrences occur within 10 years. They key to successful treatment of a recurrent cancer is the same as for the initial disease: early detection. Frequent screenings are vitally important.
A recurrence of thyroid cancer can be local or metastatic. A local recurrence may require surgery or radioactive iodine therapy, and prognosis for recovery is generally good. If cancer returns outside the thyroid area, you may suspect a different type of cancer has emerged, perhaps lymphoma, lung cancer or bone cancer. But your doctor may identify these metastasized cells as thyroid cancer and treat it in much the same way as the primary disease.
Early detection requires frequent screening. That’s one reason why we at Barasch & McGarry are fighting for a renewal of the Zadroga Act, to provide free medical screenings to 9/11 responders. If you have questions about your rights regarding a 9/11 illness, call us at 888-351-9421 or contact our office online.