Resources for researchers

Sharing results from the Boston Firefighter Cancer Screening Survey

In October 2002, an explosion ignited a nine-alarm blaze at the Sithe power station in South Boston. The 231 firefighters who extinguished the fire were saturated with heavy petroleum distillate oil.

An unusually high number of the fire’s early responders subsequently were diagnosed with cancer. To increase awareness of the importance of cancer screening and early detection among these group of firefighters, who were exposed to high rates of carcinogens, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health partnered with the Boston Fire Department to assess the level of cancer screening the Sithe firefighters received and to make recommendations for screening tests that can detect cancer early, which can result in more successful treatment.

HCC worked with Emily Sparer, PhD, to develop a report of aggregated results from the Boston Firefighter Cancer Screening Survey. Reported screening rates for skin, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer are visually displayed alongside recommendations by the US Preventive Services Task Force and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Firefighters who completed the survey also had the opportunity to receive individualized feedback on specific cancer screening tests recommended for them.

Download the report.