Did you know? The rate of line-of-duty deaths from cancer-related illness is rapidly increasing and is on pace to overtake cardiac disease as the leading killer of firefighters nationwide. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 68 percent of all firefighters will develop some form of cancer in their lifetimes.
This is a sad reality for Minnesota’s firefighters, but thankfully, there are steps you can take to detect cancer in its early stages. One of the most impactful ways to mitigate your risk of cancer is to get an annual physical exam. While getting your exam, tell your provider that you are, or have been, a firefighter.
After you’ve shared that information with them, they will likely give you the following screenings:
- A comprehensive physical assessment
- Laboratory testing including blood tests and urinalysis
- A pulmonary function test
- Imaging such as chest x-ray (every 5 years) or low dose CT scan
- Cancer screenings for early detection of prostate, cervical, colorectal, breast and lung cancer.
All of these screenings can truly be life-saving as they can help detect cancer before it escalates. Some fire departments even offer free yearly cancer screenings, so it could be worth checking-in with leadership to see if you could get your screenings at the firehouse.
No matter where you get screened for cancer, the important thing is that you do it! And most importantly, tell your firefighting brothers and sisters to do the same.
To learn more about firefighters’ higher risks for cancer – and what can be done to help prevent it – consider enrolling in our cancer deep-dive class. The two-hour class is free until June 2021 and educates firefighters on activities that put them at higher risk for developing cancer, proper PPE strategies for mitigating cancer risks, and what types of screenings can be done to catch cancer early. Register HERE.