STOW – The Department of Fire Services (DFS) is expanding its early cancer detection program by including mammograms, free of charge, for Massachusetts firefighters.
“Cancer remains a pressing threat to firefighters, manifesting earlier and often detected late compared to the general public,” State Fire Marshal Jon Davine stressed. He further highlighted the importance of acknowledging the increasing number of female firefighters in the state and nationwide. “As Breast Cancer Awareness Month commences, we’re taking a decisive step by introducing mammograms as part of our free cancer screening services for all Massachusetts firefighters.”
Recent studies, such as the April 2023 publication in Frontiers in Public Health, revealed alarming statistics: over a quarter of cancer diagnoses in female firefighters from a 2019-2020 survey were breast cancer, and most were identified after presenting symptoms instead of proactive screening.
A stark reflection of the situation is evident from 2022’s statistics: nearly three-fourths of names on the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial were due to occupational cancer. Alarmingly, most firefighter health insurances fall short in offering timely and age-appropriate cancer screenings. To bridge this gap, the DFS, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy, offers a comprehensive range of screenings – from skin and oral cancer assessments to CT scans and PSA blood tests. As of Fiscal Year 2024, mammograms and ultrasounds have joined this crucial list.
State Fire Marshal Davine concluded, “Cancer awareness and timely intervention are essential for firefighter survival. If you’re part of the fire service community, retired or active, please prioritize discussions about cancer risks with your healthcare provider. And for medical professionals, understand the significant risk occupational cancer presents to firefighters.”
For more details on the DFS’s enhanced cancer screening initiative and information on occupational cancer for healthcare and fire service professionals, visit the Department of Fire Services’ official website.