State Senator Ileana Garcia will present a ceremonial check for the $2,000,000 of state funds she worked to secure this past legislative session towards The Firefighter Cancer Initiative (FCI), which began at the University of Miami’s state of the art Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center as an incentive from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study the effects of why firefighters are at an increased risk of carcinogen exposure and development of cancer in connection with the citizen’s they serve and protect.
Two large scale studies held by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health have previously concluded that firefighters across the Unites States face upwards of a “…9% increase in cancer diagnoses, and a 14% increase in cancer-related deaths…” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, current figures from the American Society of Clinical Oncology have resulted in significantly decreased cancer screening rates. To combat this decline in testing, fire departments across the state have shown their support for the initiative by participating throughout their 32 projects with over seven thousand participants. The grant is set to provide maximized access for firefighters to cancer screenings, education towards hazard and protection, as well as expanded analysis and technology towards identifying and quantifying the perils that escalate potential risk factors.
FCI projects document stress from all facets of the work force into three separate focal points: education, research, and service in order “…to develop and implement practices that can reduce noxious exposures associated with disease risk…” Earlier detection and preventative safety procedures are set to minimize years of productive life lost to the potential amount of sick days. FCI, therefore, has enlisted the expertise of Dr. C. Ola Landgren, M.D., Ph. D. University of Miami’s own Leader of Experimental Therapeutics Program & Myeloma Service whose crucial involvement with first responders in the aftermath of the World Trade Center, September 11th, 2001 attacks are critical to the program’s identification and treatment of multiple myeloma cases.
“Our firefighters are on the frontline for the benefit of our safety and well-being. We have an obligation to find out why they are at a higher risk of carcinogen exposure in order to make certain they receive the best possible care and access to the latest medical treatments,” stated Senator Garcia.