Cancer Awareness Introduction: In 2005 over 10.5 million Americans were living with a form of cancer. *1 This year alone 1.2 million Americans may be diagnosed with a form of cancer. *2 Chances are that cancer has touched your life, especially considering a firefighters work.
Cancer Awareness Introduction continued: Studies have shown that firefighters are more at risk for certain types of cancer. What is cancer? All cancer starts due to uncontrolled abnormal cell growth. Cells travel throughout the body through blood and lymph systems while dividing uncontrollably. There are more than 100 types of cancer, named for the area in the body where the cancer originates. *3
Cancer Awareness The need for education and awareness: For years firefighters have focused on the physical performance aspects of the job, ignoring the health issues related to firefighting. The firefighters environment became more complex due to expanded missions and response to hazards and terrorism, Firefighters and other first responders need to be educated to the dangers of cancer. By taking preventive measures, you could reduce your exposure to cancer causing agents, as well as your colleagues exposure.
Cancer Awareness Study results: A 2006 University of Cincinnati study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, of 110,000 firefighters worldwide revealed firefighters face up to twice the risk of dying from certain types of cancer than non firefighters. The 110,000 firefighters were chosen from around the world and were closely studied. The results compiled are startling. 20 kinds of cancer were analyzed, 10 of these cancers developed in firefighters more frequently than any other type of worker. Testicular cancer 102% Brain cancer 32% Multiple Myeloma 53% Prostate cancer 28 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 51% Stomach cancer 22% Skin cancer 39% Colon cancer 21%
Cancer Awareness Exposed: According to the finding from the University of Cincinnati study, firefighters are exposed to numerous cancer-causing substances throughout their careers. …as you sweat on the job, the pores in your skin are open and are more likely to absorb chemical residue.
Cancer Awareness Preventive measures: Always wear proper PPE, including SCBA Clean gear frequently and completely Keep PPE at the station or stored in a gear bag Thoroughly clean yourself before leaving the fire station Remove diesel exhaust from the fire station Eliminate the use of tobacco products Have annual medical and physical evaluations Use appropriate fitness equipment and exercise programs Target your nutrition education to include cancer fighting foods (high in anti-oxidants)
Cancer Awareness Preventive measures continued: Subscribing to the Wellness-Fitness Initiative is a good way to strengthen the health of firefighters through physical, mental and emotional tools. The following topics are highlighted in the Wellness-Fitness Initiative manual. Fitness evaluation Medical evaluation Rehabilitation Behavioral health Data collection For a free downloadable copy of the manual please visit http://www.iafc.org/displaycommon.cfm?an= http://www.iafc.org/displaycommon.cfm?an= 1&subarticlenbr=388
Cancer Awareness Cancer near miss report: Case Study: Report #06-255 While participating in an annual physical exam, one firefighter tested positive for colon cancer. This test was confirmed by an outside source. This case is one of four or five that has surfaced in my department in the past 3 years. Extensive annual physical examinations for all fire/rescue personnel are a must. In fact, an intense Wellness-Fitness Program should be an integral part of every department. The annual physical exam is, in part, a discovery phase. Other components of the Wellness-Fitness Program may help reduce the chance of developing this disease or at the very least promote early detection.
Cancer near miss report continued: A few important tips stand out from this report. This cancer was found during an annual exam. Early detection is key for protecting yourself. Multiple firefighters were recently diagnosed with cancer. It is possible multiple firefighters were exposed to the same cancer- causing agent. If you have reason to be concerned, visit your doctor for a physical exam. By sharing your experience through submitting a near-miss report, you are raising awareness of cases where cancer is affecting firefighters.
Cancer Awareness Cancer support: If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you are not alone. Other firefighters are facing the same challenges you are facing. A firefighter support group has been formed to help firefighters, both active and retired, as well as their families who have been diagnosed with a form of cancer. Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN) www.FirefighterCancerSupport.comwww.FirefighterCancerSupport.com The website is a resource to receive assistance while dealing with cancer. Testimonials, memorials, and a member section of the website hold valuable resources.
Cancer Awareness Cancer support continued: Below you will find some additional cancer support pages. American Cancer Society Angel Flight www.angelflightsoars.org AmericaCancer.com http://americacancer.com CarePages.com www.carepages.com Caring4Cancer.com www.caring4cancer.com Kasdas Colon Cancer Foundation www.coloncancerfoundation.org Lance Armstrong Foundation www.livestrong.org Leukemia & Lymphoma Society www.leukemia-lymphoma.org The Marrow Foundation www.marrow.org The Mayo Clinic www.mayoclinic.com Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation www.curemeso.org National Brain Tumor Foundation www.tbts.org National Organization for Rare Disorders, inc. www.rarediseases.org Skin Cancer Connection www.healthcentral.com/skin-cancer The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer www.komen.org
Cancer Awareness References: *1 Cancer Prevalence: How Many People Have Cancer?. 2008. American Cancer Society. 24 Mar. 2009.http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_6x_Cancer_Prevale nce_How_Many_People_Have_Cancer.asp *2 2009 Firefighter Cancer Support Network. 24 Mar. 2009 http://www.fcsn.net/index.cfm?Section=10&PageNum=78. http://www.fcsn.net/index.cfm?Section=10&PageNum=78 *3 Defining Cancer. National Cancer Institute U.S National Institutes of Health. 24 Mar. 2009 http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:ch8QL_BjDBcJ:www.cancer.gov/ http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:ch8QL_BjDBcJ:www.cancer.gov/ cancertopics/what-is-cancer+what+is+cancer&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uscancertopics/what-is-cancer+what+is+cancer&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us.
Cancer Awareness Discussion How many firefighters do you know (active or retired) that have contracted a form of cancer? Why do some firefighters go to great lengths to keep their gear clean and use SCBA while others are just the opposite. Based on your age, when did you have your last chest x-ray, colonoscopy, or other cancer screen?
Cancer Awareness Conduct a survey your station, apparatus and work environment. What hazards exist that could contribute to contracting cancer? What can you do to minimize the hazards? What outside resources are needed to minimize the hazards?