- Department of Fire Services
Media Contact for DFS Adds Mammograms to Firefighter Cancer Screening Program
Jake Wark, Public Information Officer
STOW — Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Jon M. Davine said today that the Department of Fire Services has added mammograms to the complement of free, early-detection cancer screenings available to Massachusetts firefighters.
“Firefighters are at greater risk of developing cancer, developing it at younger ages, and receiving a late diagnosis than the public they protect,” said State Fire Marshal Davine. “This includes the growing number of women firefighters in Massachusetts and across the nation. As we kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re proud to announce that we’ve added mammograms to the array of free cancer screening options we offer to Massachusetts firefighters.”
An April 2023 article in Frontiers in Public Health found that breast cancer accounted for more than 25% of cancer diagnoses among women firefighters who took part in a 2019-2020 survey. Most of these cases were discovered when seeking medical care for symptoms rather than during routine or cancer-specific screening.
In 2022, nearly 75% of the names added to the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial represented occupational cancer deaths. The health insurance available to firefighters often does not cover cancer screenings at the age or frequency appropriate to their risk, if at all. To address this serious health concern, the Department of Fire Services works with volunteers and contracted vendors through the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy to provide skin cancer and oral cancer screenings to any interested firefighter, and chest computed tomography (CT) scans and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests to eligible firefighters. DFS has added mammograms and ultrasounds to these options in Fiscal Year 2024.
“Cancer awareness, prevention, and early detection are key survival tools for firefighters,” State Fire Marshal Davine said. “If you’re working in or retired from the fire service, please talk to your primary care provider about your increased risk of cancer. And if you’re a medical professional, please familiarize yourself with the grave risk that occupational cancer poses to your firefighter patients.”
To learn more about the free cancer screenings available to Massachusetts firefighters, and for more information on occupational cancer for fire service and medical professionals, visit the Department of Fire Services’ Occupational Cancer in the Fire Service page.