In partnership with UMass Memorial Health and the Worcester Red Sox, DetecTogether hosted a free skin cancer screening for Massachusetts firefighters at Polar Park. DetecTogether team members came together with doctors, medical students, hospital staff, and volunteers to serve those who bravely protect us. We were joined by guests Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Worcester Red Sox president Dr. Charles Steinberg, and State Representative Hannah Kane.
Because of exposure to carcinogens on the job, firefighters have a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general public. Two in three firefighter deaths in the U.S. each year are caused by cancer. DetecTogether has prioritized teaching firefighters how to detect cancer early because of their occupational risk. Our program for first responders has been delivered to thousands of firefighters across the country.
Earlier this year, DetecTogether presented 3 Steps Detect to 400 firefighters in Worcester, Mass., teaching them how to identify early symptoms of cancer, giving a timeframe for action, and empowering them to collaborate with their doctors for best health outcomes. Following the training, the Worcester firefighters asked for help getting a skin cancer screening, part of Step 1, “Knowing Your Great.”
Firefighters have a 21% elevated risk for melanoma (skin cancer). When diagnosed early, the survival rate for melanoma is 99%. When diagnosed at stage 4, the survival rate drops to 23%, so regular screening is especially important for firefighters. We partnered with providers from UMass Memorial Health to provide the screenings, and the Worcester Red Sox graciously hosted at the beautiful, new Polar Park. All Massachusetts firefighters were invited, and participants included firefighters from 30 cities and towns.
During the event, UMass dermatologists, led by Dr. Jessica St. John, provided the skin screenings in the DCU Club Level. After their screening, firefighters scheduled follow-up dermatology appointments if needed. Additionally, UMass gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons, including DetecTogether Board of Advisors member and Chief of Colorectal Surgery, Dr. Justin Maykel, provided consultations for colonoscopies, a screening test for colon cancer, for which firefighters have a 21% greater risk. Firefighters also had the option to connect with UMass primary care doctors who understand their unique healthcare needs.
“This collaboration between DetecTogether, UMass Memorial Health, and the WooSox will help reduce the risk of cancer death by putting firefighters in the driver’s seat when it comes to their healthcare, providing them with critical screenings and information about how to detect cancer early,” says DetecTogether founder, Jim Coghlin, Sr. “Together, we will save lives!”