BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio)—It's not just smokers who are at risk for lung cancer. The leading cause of cancer death in the United States also poses a threat to some first responders.
"Firefighters are an important group of people who may be at risk," said Dr. Lecia Sequist, a director at the Center for Innovation in Early Cancer Detection at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Firefighters are breathing in the smoke, and their skin is coming in contact with these harmful chemicals that are found in the materials in our homes and in workplaces."
Dr. Sequist says firefighters aren't always considered for early detection programs, and that increases their risk as well.
"They may be too young or they may not have the traditional cigarette smoking that's tied to lung cancer screening access."
Dr. Sequist is leading a new study into how the earliest signs of lung cancer within firefighters show up in a CT scan. The study's website says doctors don't know much right now about how a firefighter's lungs would appear compared to non-firefighter's.
Firefighters across New England are being asked to participate, and an original Friday deadline for enrollment has been softened. Firefighters who are at least 40 years old or who have at least ten years of service can sign up after taking an eligibility survey. Participants will get a free chest scan at MGH, taking around five minutes, and patients will be referred to care if needed.
Firefighters are also being asked to consider giving blood so researchers can look for markers of cancer, but it's not a requirement.
WBZ's Karyn Regal (@KarynRegal) reports: