If you’re a firefighter and you spend any time at all on the Internet, I’m sure you have seen the statistics related to firefighter occupational cancer. The statistics are alarming. As a firefighter you have a significantly greater chance than an ordinary citizen of developing lung cancer, Melanoma, Mesothelioma, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Non-melanoma skin cancer, Prostate cancer, rectal cancer, stomach cancer and cancers of the bladder and kidneys. These results can be found in reports published by the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.
Reduce Your Risks
The good news is there are some things you can do to reduce your risk, simple things like wear your breathing apparatus and mask even through overhaul, wash your gear once exposed to the elements of a fire, clean your flash-hood, keep your helmet clean, develop a standard operating guideline for decontamination procedures on the fire-ground. Shower as soon as possible when returning from a fire. Keep the inside of your apparatus clean, don’t carry your dirty turn out gear in your car and don’t allow turn-out gear in the living areas of the fire station. Limit your exposure to diesel exhaust, don’t let vehicles idle in the apparatus bay. These are just few things you can do now.
An annual physical with a cancer screening is also a good idea and if you’re a volunteer firefighter make sure your doctor is aware of this fact. Often times your doctor has no idea what your exposures are, simply because they have no idea you volunteer your time as a firefighter. Early diagnosis will go a long way in treating cancer if you were unfortunately diagnosed with some form of cancer.
So what do you do if you’re a firefighter and you’re diagnosed with cancer? Obviously you should listen to the doctor and begin the necessary treatment. Many states now have cancer presumption laws that could be beneficial to you and your family, if they exist in your state get the help you need to file the claim.
The rise in occupational cancer among firefighters is one reason why Provident has created a Critical Illness Coverage that provides a living benefit for the first diagnosis of certain types of cancer. Contact us for further details.