An Upgrade in Post-9/11 First Responders Cancer Screening

Written by: Dr. Jesse A. Stoff
Edited by: Carmen Regallo-Dewitt (

Amongst other things in life, I am a New York State police surgeon. As such, the boys in blue and FDNY are near and dear to my heart and I always go out of my way to help these patients when they come to my office seeking care. It saddens and frustrates me to hear stories about their experiences from ground zero on that fateful day and the days and weeks following.  The first one being that respiratory protective gear was purposely NOT issued because "it posed a potential health risk as a visual impediment - increasing the risk of falling and hurting themselves". This is a great source of frustration to both me and my patients.  Another heartbreaking story that I find to be the culprit of these illnesses was when officials announced that "the air in lower Manhattan was safe to breathe" days after the incident. The fact that these brave men and women were purposely exposed to this carcinogenic, toxic milieu and was misinformed and denied respiratory protection is criminal.

Be that as it may, I see many of these people suffering from severe and life threatening diseases and cancers many years after their exposure to the initial event far and above what the epidemiologists say is the average for people of their age group and location of living. I'm working with a group of physicians (now) who are putting together a new program for FDNY workers that were exposed to 9/11 using some of the latest gene testing technology looking for the very earliest signs of cancer.

We now have new technology called a liquid biopsy which is a blood test. A simple tube of blood that looks for genetic traces of certain kinds of cancer that can be picked up when the cancer is still in the multi-cellular stage before it has even become a tumor. The earlier one finds one of these things and addresses it, the easier it is to treat it and eliminate it before it becomes a metastatic disaster and taken over the person's body.

There are breakthroughs in the field of medicine that are helping with this fight.  New technologies are coming down the road over the next few months that will increase the range of cancers that we can test for as an early warning. There are tests for looking at the structure and function of the immune system to serve as an early warning about the increased risk of developing any kind of cancer if a person's health is compromised.

Laboratory testing is a fantastic first line of defense because it will see things long before they show up on a scan. With new scans that have become available such as PET MRI's, we can see cancer cell clusters at a much smaller stage than we were able to before.  Use of these technologies are much safer solutions that does not expose people to yet more excess amounts of radiation as does the PET CT scanner.

For more info on Dr. Stoff's work with 9/11 related cancers, visit:


By: Lisa Vento-Nielsen

During the 2001 attacks, I was working downtown at Standard & Poor's and exposure to the toxic dust and air particles are thought to be how I wound up with breast cancer despite no family history of cancer, no risk factors and no genetic component.  I am now living as a cancer survivor and someone who has asthma and other respiratory issues. My husband was an NYPD sergeant, a first responder at 9/11 and is certified with the WTC monitoring program.  The ironic thing is that he has been monitored for years and we expected him to get sick but instead it was I that got cancer. I was not originally signed up to be part of the program, though I should have been since I am a survivor of the event. 

I am glad the WTC HEALTH PROGRAM  is there to help  manage my continued care for breathing issues and monitor my cancer and other ailments that could result down the road (knock on wood, there will be no other things, but we never know). I am not sure if one government program can cover everything and I wish more people who had been exposed knew about the WTC Health Program. Like anything in regards to our health, it is important to advocate and research for your own care regardless of your medical status or diagnosis.  I became a major researcher as part of staying proactive by seeking out all the new cancer therapies and diagnostic treatments because I am convinced that this war on cancer is far from over.  Having read the CDC reports about the many surprise cancer cases and illnesses stemming from 9/11, I needed to arm myself with as much information on what to do, where to go and what's available. They say the attacks were a life changer for us all... being diagnosed over 15 years after that day tells us that we are still being attacked, this time from inside our bodies!

For more about Lisa Vento-Nielsen, visit AFAC Survivor Series (see link)

Special thanks to our senior public supporter of all 9/11 First Responders- Mr. John Feal of the FealGood Foundation- whose countless achievements and tireless efforts in the fight to preserve the Victims Compensation Fund and other government-backed resources for 9/11 personnel.

About the author:
DR. JESSE A. STOFF is the medical director for Integrative Medicine of NY (Westbury) and an internationally renowned physician with extensive credentials in clinical immunology and holistic medicine. A graduate of New York Medical College, he pursued extensive post-doctoral training including a fellow- ship at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital in London, England. Dr. Stoff published over 9 books {including co-authoring the bestsellers Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Hidden Epidemic and The Prostate Miracle} and over 250 articles on health & wellness. He has spoken worldwide in some of the most sought-after medical conferences about his experiences and analyses on the study of human disease.  His recent publications include the magazine IMMUNOLOGY TODAY and the medical text INTEGRATIVE ONCO-IMMUNOLOGY which is being distributed and accessed by medical colleges today.

DR. ROBERT L. BARD is internationally known and recognized as a leader in the field of 21st Century 3-D ULTRASONOGRAPHIC VOLUMETRIC DOPPLER IMAGING. Dr. Bard specializes in advanced 3-D sonography to detect cancers in numerous organs including the breast, prostate, skin, thyroid, melanoma and other areas. Dr. Bard’s images are used to accurately guide biopsies, target therapy and provide focused follow-up after treatment.   For more information or to subscribe to our EARLY CANCER DETECTION & PREVENTION PROGRAM newsletter, contact Bard Cancer Diagnostics today at: 212.355.7017 ( 

DISCLAIMER: This blogsite, the author and editorial staff make no claims pertaining to any of the institutions or funding information listed, make no warranty or guarantee of funding, and bear no responsibility and disclaim any liability for the privacy of communications or the outcome of any applications for the listed resources. No further information about any of the institutions nor funding programs (other than the links and contact information listed here) is available.  Written content provided in this article/blog is for informational purposes only; consult your physician before making any changes to your treatment plan.


  1. Special thanks to John Feal for great resources about 9/11 toxic dust and the CDC Cancer List. Each day, it seems we're getting more bad news (again) about Ground Zero.

  2. Jesse- you did a great job on this piece. "The air down there is safe to breathe?"- I remember when Christine Todd Whitman (former head of the EPA) announced that in the media. of course no one could believe her seeing all that dust come out of the towers falling. We even felt the backlash of many people getting sick from it down the road. But the staggering numbers coming out of the news is a definite eye-opener! Thanks for bringing it all to light. I'd be interested to see more docs getting involved with your program.

  3. I found this article posted on FB and I didn't realize how bad it is STILL for everybody there. With all the "never forget" bumper stickers and parades and fundraisers, you'd never imagine that the victims & survivors of this catastrophe still had people left out in the cold. Come on people, get it together and take care of the responders. Go John Feal!

  4. It is still amazing to me what these men and women so selflessly did, and the long term consequences of their "no brainer" decision to do so. It's sad that this long after they are still fighting life threatening diseases.

    It is very enlightening to see these new technologies available that are much more effective at finding the deepest of problems to yield better, precise, treatment before the problems escalate.

    Kudos to technology and the fine doctors who go above and beyond standard medicine to help these heros.

  5. Wonderful article and hits so close to home as someone married to a first responder who also worked downtown for many years and ultimately was diagnosed with cancer - the first in my family and no other risk factors. Thanks so much for sharing this information!


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