Cancer Control Month

April is designated as National Cancer Control Month, a time when everyone should take stock of what they can do to prevent and control cancer. Since firefighters are at increased risk of several types of cancer than the general population, it is especially important that as a first responder you educate yourself on your risks and what you can do to minimize those risks.

Early detection is key to combatting cancer, so make sure you are getting regular screenings and tell your doctor that you are a firefighter. Also take steps to reduce your risks of exposure to cancer-causing carcinogens. This includes full and proper use of PPE throughout response and overhaul, washing PPE and hoods after response, never storing dirty PPE in your car or house, and washing your face and hands immediately after response and before touching food.

There are many resources and tips available to help you learn more about your risks and what you can do to prevent and control cancer. These include the following:

  • The National Cancer Institute provides information on screenings, prevention, treatment, and more.
  • The Firefighter Cancer Support Network’s white paper, Taking Action Against Cancer in the Fire Service, provides information on your risks and steps you can take to lessen those risks.
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has released data from its firefighter cancer study.
  • The NVFC produced a PPE video series to provide firefighters with quick tips and best practices when it comes to using, replacing, cleaning, and funding PPE. 
  • The NVFC recently held a cancer roundtable that produced tips and best practices for limiting exposure.
  • A recent article by NVFC board member Brian McQueen shares his story of receiving a cancer diagnosis and why early detection and preventative steps are so critical in the fire service.
  • The Fire Smoke Coalition has resources and training to help firefighters “Know Your Smoke” and prevent exposure to toxic environments.