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Erie County Cancer Services Program extends outreach to volunteer & career firefighters during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


Wed, Mar 8th 2023 04:00 pm

Submitted by the Erie County Department of Health

The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) and the Erie County Cancer Services Program (CSP) are extending cancer screening education to firefighters.

Research has generally shown an increased risk for firefighters in several types of cancer, in part due to occupational exposures. Fortunately, there are screening tests for some of those cancers that can detect early health changes before they cause symptoms.

“We initially considered reaching out to the firefighting community for March, which is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month,” explained Michelle Wysocki, CSP program manager. “But as we looked more at what research has shown about overall cancer risks for this group, we expanded our approach to include other cancers.”

Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said, “Firefighters understand the value of preventing fires and detecting and defeating them early, before they can cause significant damage. Cancers can act like a fire in the body, and we want to give these first responders knowledge and access to screening tools that can detect certain cancers in their early stages, when there are more treatment options and the potential for better outcomes.”

With this in mind, ECDOH is coordinating an event on March 25 for all Erie County fire companies. CSP staff will present information and insights on colorectal cancer screening options, and provide FIT kits (home test kits) for those eligible. Educators will explain screening procedures for esophageal and lung cancers, and how fire fighters can access those services.

“Any situation that a firefighter encounters puts them at risk for exposure to harmful chemicals and toxic materials,” Commissioner of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Daniel Neaverth Jr. said. “They battle blazes to keep our community safe, and I want to encourage the leadership of our volunteer firefighting family to participate in this event and support your brothers and sisters in making this part of your health a priority.”

“Sound the Alarm on Cancer Screening,” an information session for Erie County’s firefighters, will take place from 9-10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 25, at Erie County Emergency Operations and Training Center (Fire Training Academy), 3359 Broadway. Refreshments will be provided.

Fire company health and safety officers can register by emailing [email protected] or calling 716-681-6070 by March 23. Invitations will also be sent to volunteer fire company chiefs to designate a representative.

CSP staff will reach out separately to our local professional fire companies in Buffalo, Lackawanna and Tonawanda City.

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