DetecTogether partners with UMass Memorial Health and the Worcester Red Sox to help firefighters detect cancer early
On August 24, 2021, DetectTogether will offer a free skin cancer screening for Worcester-area firefighters at Polar Park in collaboration with UMass Memorial Health and the Worcester Red Sox.
Because of exposure to carcinogens on the job, firefighters have a 9% higher risk of developing cancer and 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.
“Cancer in firefighters is often detected late, when it is harder to treat and less survivable. Teaching firefighters, whose occupation puts them at greater risk, how to detect cancer early is critical to improving their survival rates,” says DetecTogether President & Executive Director Tricia Laursen.
Earlier this year, DetecTogether delivered 3 Steps Detect training to 400 Worcester firefighters. “With the increased risk of a cancer diagnosis, it is imperative that firefighters have the knowledge and tools to protect themselves,” says Worcester Fire Chief Michael J. Lavoie. “I am very grateful that DetecTogether partnered with our department to help build our members’ awareness of the risk and give them strategies to not only prevent cancer but to detect it early before it is too late.”
Following the 3 Steps Detect training, the Worcester firefighters asked for help getting a skin cancer screening, part of Step 1, “Knowing Your Great.” Melanoma, or skin cancer, is one of the cancer types for which firefighters have a higher risk. When diagnosed early, the survival rate for melanoma is 99%. When diagnosed at stage 4, that number drops to 23%, so regular screening is especially important for firefighters.
DetecTogether reached out to partners at UMass Memorial Health and The Worcester Red Sox and have collaborated to offer free skin cancer screening to nearly 200 firefighters. UMass dermatologists will perform the exams in the DCU Club Level of Polar Park. UMass gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons will also be there for consultations about colonoscopies, a screening test for colon cancer, for which firefighters have a 21% greater risk.
“It should go without saying that our doctors consider it a privilege to provide this service for our firefighters. We are talking about people who will literally go through a wall of fire to save lives. We are very concerned about their elevated risks for cancer and hope to provide them with valuable information during the screening event,” said Jessica St. John, MD, MBA, MPH of UMass Memorial Health.
While at the screening event, firefighters can schedule follow-up dermatology appointments, colonoscopies, as well as lung and prostate cancer screening tests. Additionally, they will have the option to connect with primary care UMass doctors who understand their unique health care needs.
Each firefighter who comes to the screening will also get a ticket to a future Worcester Red Sox game. “All of us at the Worcester Red Sox are looking forward to partnering with DetecTogether and UMass Memorial Health to support this important effort,” said Joe Bradlee, Vice President of Baseball Operations & Community Relations. “Early detection saves lives, and we want to continue to do everything we can to support firefighters in our community.”
The Firefighter Skin Screening event will take place on Tuesday, August 24, 2021 from 4:00-8:00 PM in the DCU Club Level at Polar Park, home of the Worcester Red Sox. The screening is open to all Massachusetts firefighters, and registration can be found on the DFS Learning Management System.