Cancer Awareness

Firefighter Cancer Awareness:

People who don't have cancer rarely give cancer a second thought. All their life they have been conditioned to believe that the medical community is diligently making progress in the "War Against Cancer." They believe there is nothing to worry about. If they get cancer, the medical community will take good care of them. All of this is an assumption that could cost a person their life!"

Cancer Symptoms -


News Bulletin

USFA and NIOSH Initiate Study of Cancer among Firefighters

USFA Press Office: (301) 447-1853

Emmitsburg, MD. – The United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are partnering on a study to examine the potential for increased risk of cancer among firefighters due to exposures from smoke, soot, and other contaminants in the line of duty. "There is a need to have a comprehensive study of the incidence of cancer in the fire service involving objective medical and epidemiological oversight. We have lost too many firefighters from this disease," said USFA Administrator Kelvin J. Cochran. “USFA is pleased to work with NIOSH in this initiative."

This multi-year USFA supported NIOSH study will include over 18,000 current and retired career firefighters. The project will improve upon previously published firefighter studies by significantly increasing the number of individuals for whom health data will be analyzed. A larger study provides greater statistical reliability. The study will also improve on past studies by analyzing not only deaths from cancer, but also the incidence of certain cancers that have higher survival rates than others, such as testicular and prostate cancer, as well as deaths from causes other than cancer. This will improve researchers’ ability to estimate risk for various cancers and to compare risk of cancer with risks for other causes of death.

"NIOSH has worked extensively with partners in the fire service to address occupational safety and health risks for firefighters," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "We appreciate the funding and support from the U.S. Fire Administration as we engage the scientifically complex question of firefighting and cancer risk."

Firefighters are exposed to smoke, soot, and fumes from fires that contain substances classified by NIOSH as potential occupational carcinogens or by the National Toxicology Program as known human carcinogens or substances reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens. These may include byproducts of combustion such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, as well as contaminants from building products such as asbestos and formaldehyde.

This NIOSH study supported by USFA is intended to enhance current firefighter safety knowledge and inform ongoing efforts to further characterize the cancer risk associated with these exposures due to firefighting operations. During this study, researchers will establish the population of over 18,000 career firefighters from health records of both suburban and large city fire departments.

By analyzing deaths and cancer cases among those firefighters, NIOSH will attempt to determine 1) whether more cancers than expected occurred among the cohort, and 2) whether cancers are associated with exposures to the contaminants to which the firefighters may have been exposed.

NIOSH is a federal agency which conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injury, illness, and death. NIOSH’s research includes a national program to investigate fatal traumatic injuries and other causes of line-of-duty deaths among firefighters. More information about NIOSH can be found

Additional information about NIOSH’s program to investigate firefighter deaths in the line of duty, and to make recommendations for preventing such deaths, can be found at

Further information about this partnership effort may be found on the USFA Web site.

The St Anthony Fire Fighters are coordinating a Bone Marrow Registration to assist New York Fire Fighter Roy Chelsen. Roy responded on 9/11 and exited Tower 2 just before it collapsed. Roy has since been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and is in need to a bone marrow transplant.

St Anthony Fire Fighter Bill Myers was diagnosed with Myelodisplasia in 1998. Bill received a bone marrow transplant but, unfortunately, died in 1999 due to complications.
To join the Registry is very simple and painless. The process takes about 10 minutes, including a short questionnaire and a cotton swab of the inside cheek. Simple enough.
Although the target group is Fire, EMS & Police, anyone over the age of 18 can be evaluated for registration.
Please contact the St Anthony Fire Department if you have any questions.

DATE: Sunday, April 11, 2010 TIME: Noon - 4:00 p.m. LOCATION: St Anthony City Hall Council Chambers 34th Ave NE & Silver Lake Rd NE St Anthony, MN 55418

PHONE: (612) 782-3400

Don Drusch, Asst. Fire Chief
St. Anthony (MN) Fire
Ph. 612-782-3403



09-18-2010 - Comfrey Firefighter Robert Herrig - Saturday,September 18, 2010 Comfrey Community Center 4:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m.
Rob was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma on July 1 and is scheduled for a stem cell transplant in January. Please join us in a benefit to help with expenses related to his illness. He has been an active member of the Comfrey Fire Department for 21 years, the Comfrey First Responders for 16 years, the City Council for 20 years, and other community organizations. Meal includes pork & BBQ chicken sandwiches, potato salad, beans and ice cream. Free will donation at the door. Silent Auction during the meal from 4—7:30 p.m.
Supplemental Funds provided by the Brown County Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Cash donations may be sent to Choice Financial Bank c/o Robert Herrig Benefit
PO Box 98
Comfrey, MN 56019

To donate an auction item, please call: Julie at 507-227-3863; Linda at 507-877-2665 or Mark at 507-829-2449
Poster here


Information on cancer.


Firefighters Lost To cancer

  • 04-09-2010 - Oak Grove Firefighter Alan R. Dahl - Details
  • 02-19-2010 - Eagan Fire Lt. Roy B. Prudencio - Details
  • 07-17-2009 - White Bear Lake Firefighter Bob Peterson - Details
  • 10-25-2008 - Vermilion Lake Township Fire Dept Firefighter Leanne Peggy Jankowski, 57, of Pike Township, died from leukemia.
  • 04-17-2008 - Long Lake Firefighter Steve Becker dies from Stage 4 lung cancer. - Funeral details
  • 03-15-2008 - Oronoco Firefighter Drew Hewitt - Funeral Details
  • 02-22-2008 - Rochester Firefighter Joe Farrell - Funeral Details
  • 08-08-2006 - Tower-Soudan Firefighter Ballard Turnball - Details


Minn State Law - Workers Comp - Click here

  • Cancer - League of MN Cities (LMNC) - click here
  • Cancer Risk Among Firefighters: A Review and
    Meta-analysis of 32 Studies - click here
  • Carcinogenicity of shift-work, painting, and firefighting -click here

Minnesota Fallen Firefighters Association

If your department needs help preparing for a firefighter death active or retired the MNFFA is your answer.
If your department has just experienced a LODD, please read our LODD information ASAP.


Types of Tests to Detect Cancer - click here

Tumor Markers - What Are Tumor Markers?

Tumor markers are substances that can be found in the body when cancer is present. They are usually found in the blood or urine. They can be products of the cancer cells themselves or of the body in response to cancer or other conditions. Most tumor markers are proteins.

There are many different tumor markers. Some are seen only in a single type of cancer, while others can be found in many types of cancer.

To test for a tumor marker, the doctor sends a sample of the patient's blood or urine to a lab. The marker is usually found by combining the blood or urine with man made antibodies designed to react with that specific protein.

This is a must read article - click here

Information that you can take to your Doctor - click here


American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer, 2004 - click here

Robert A. Smith, PhD, Vilma Cokkinides, PhD and Harmon J. Eyre, MD

Dr. Smith is Director of Cancer Screening, Cancer Control Science Department, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA.
Dr. Cokkinides is Program Director for Risk Factor Surveillance, Department of Epidemiology and Research Surveillance, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA.
Dr. Eyre is Executive Vice President for Research and Medical Affairs, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA, and Editor in Chief of CA.

Epidemiologic studies of firefighters have noted excess cancer risks compared with the general population. Consistent patterns are difficult to discern due to the large variations in exposure across different types of fires and different groups of firefighters. Relative risks were consistently increased, however, for three types of cancer: testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Acute and chronic inflammatory respiratory effects have been noted in firefighters, and this would provide a plausible mechanism for respiratory carcinogenesis. Firefighters are exposed to numerous toxic chemicals, including many known or suspected carcinogens. These intermittent exposures can be intense, and short-term exposure levels can be high for respirable particulate matter and for several carcinogens, notably benzene, benzo[a]pyrene, 1,3-butadiene, and formaldehyde.


Tracing Cancer's Cause

Firefighters Exposed to PCBs While Training More Than 20 Years Ago In Anne Arundel Seek a Study of Their Illness -- and Help With Coping
By Daniel de Vise Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 15, 2006; Page B01

Dave Fowler spent a week in winter 1974 learning to fight fires inside a blackened structure called the Dollhouse. Trainers filled the basement with spent transformer oil and hay, and set them ablaze. Twenty trainees sat upstairs and ate smoke until they were about to vomit or pass out.

Full Story


Firefighters Face Increased Risk for Certain Cancers

CINCINNATI—University of Cincinnati (UC) environmental health researchers have determined that firefighters are significantly more likely to develop four different types of cancer than workers in other fields.

Their findings suggest that the protective equipment firefighters have used in the past didn’t do a good job in protecting them against cancer-causing agents they encounter in their profession, the researchers say.

Full Story


Diesel Smoke Is Biggest Issue In Firehouse Safety

Even a hundred years before Rudolf Diesel invented his engine in the 1890s, hydrocarbon soot was already known to be a danger in the workplace. Soot is the very first chemical substance ever identified as an occupational health hazard, being linked to diseases among chimney sweeps in London in 1775.

In America two centuries later, it's time to come to grips with the liability faced by fire departments that fail to take heroic measures to protect employee health.

Diesel smoke has been listed as a cancer-causing chemical by the state of California since 1990. It is a combination of chemicals which vary somewhat, depending on engine characteristics and fuel quality. All diesel smoke contains an array of substances, each by itself scientifically linked to cancer - arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, nickel, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Those toxic ingredients bind to the surface of microscopic particulate soot.

Effects of diesel emissions on fire personnel.
Prepared with the help of Frank Richter, Keith Harley, and Greg Michalak.
Effects of diesel emissions on fire personnel.

Full Story


Articles and Reports

  • Cancers Among Fire Fighters, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Link
  • Related Nasal, Sinus, Throat Disorder Study, Dr. Gregory Bussell Link
  • Exposure to Benzene, A Story from a Fallen Hero Link
  • Loss of Smell and Taste Link
  • Firefighters at High Risk for Cancer Link
  • National League of Cities "hired" yes paid for a report from TriData.

Following The Money
Before going into the risks of cancer for firefighters, it is important to note the general nature of third party or "independent" studies. Rule number one: Follow the money. Determine who paid for the study and whether it reinforces the position of the study sponsor. Then ask whether the study would have been released if the outcome differed from the position of the entity that paid for it.
  • Talking Points for IAFF Affiliates on the National League of Cities/TriData Report
  • IAFC Panel Cites Flawed Methodology in NLC Cancer Report
    May 1, 2009 12:20 PM


    The International Association of Fire Chiefs has issued thefindings of an expert panel convened by the organization through the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section. The panel found a recently released report challenging cancer presumption laws for firefighters used flawed research methodology that produce predetermined outcomes.


    The National League of Cities' report under review, Assessing State Firefighter Cancer Presumption Laws and Current Firefighter Cancer Research, was a study of 17 previous studies and offered no new independent research data.


    The IAFC's panel of medical research experts questioned the NLC report's "subjective and highly questionable methodology," citing the lack of quantitative review, inconsistencies in published criteria for which studies were selected for inclusion and the inability of NLC investigators to reliably classify the studies included.


    Those reviewing the NLC report likened the organization's conclusions — "a lack of substantial evidence" for presumption and a call to halt new presumption laws until further, high-level research can be done — to the tactics used by the tobacco industry.