By Amy Gallagher, Oncology Times
Since the increase of cancer diagnoses of firefighters of post 9/11, research studies have identified a “new generation of firefighters,” according to Vershalee Shukla, MD, a radiation oncologist at Vincere Cancer Center in Scottsdale, AZ.
“The biggest difference between cancer diagnoses [pre- and] post-9/11 was the fact that many of the firefighters were smokers,” said Shukla. “Today, however, it’s against policy for firefighters to smoke. We also have increased awareness of cancer exposures and risks among the firefighter population. We have a different generation of firefighters today.”
In 2018, Shukla launched a pilot program screening lung cancer in patients using new ultra low-dose CT scanning technology. Inspired by the 9/11 firefighter lung cancer research studies, Shukla began to question the possibility of conducting low-dose lung CT screening to detect cancers at an earlier stage, notably in younger firefighters, when treatment is more favorable.
Shukla’s research study, Low Dose Lung CT Screening in First Responders in the Phoenix Metro Area: A Feasibility Study, was presented at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer [IASLC] 2019 North America Conference on Lung Cancer.
In 2019, Shukla diagnosed 50 different types of cancers in firefighters. All of the firefighters under the age of 45 were diagnosed with cancer, and some of the cancer types included kidney cancer, aggressive testicular cancer, and myeloma.
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