You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Program to study cancer in firefighters expands in county


Butch Smith, a fire captain with Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, has had a difficult fight.

Smith was diagnosed in 2008 with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. But a research partnership between the University of Miami’s Sylvester Cancer Center and South Florida fire departments is giving other firefighters a chance at earlier detection.

“Had I had a simple blood test,” Smith said Monday, “it could’ve caught my disease at a much earlier stage.”

The initiative, which is expanding to more firefighters in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, began last summer, after the Sylvester Center secured funding from the state to study the incidence of cancer in firefighters. Samuel Eaton, county fire-rescue district chief, announced that a health survey initially distributed to county firefighters would be launched to include firefighters at other municipalities.

While firefighters experience higher rates of certain cancers than the general population, doctors haven’t pinpointed the exact carcinogens.

“This initiative is so important for our community and I’m delighted that we can expand this year,” Dr. Stephen Nimer, with the Sylvester Center, said. “Because we really know too little about the magnitude of the problem and why firefighters get cancer at a younger age than others and why there’s more cancer in this community.”

Richard Ballard, CEO of Sylvester Cancer Center, said with an additional $1.5 million in funding from the state in its second year, researchers plan to expand the initiative to Martin, Orange and Hillsborough counties.

Florida Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami-Dade, said he hopes to use the research findings to push a cancer presumption law in the state of Florida. Such a law would assume that firefighters can develop cancer as a result of their job, making it easier to get health and disability benefits. According to the International Association of Fire Fighters, 33 states have cancer presumption laws for firefighters.

“This is not just a Palm Beach County issue, it’s not a Broward County or a Miami-Dade County issue,” said Palm Beach County Fire Chief Jeff Collins. “It’s a national and a global issue.”

The initiative includes multiple components, including the annual survey, screenings for cervical and colorectal cancers, a mobile app for firefighters to document workplace exposures, a program to collect breath and skin samples before and after a firefighter’s shift and an educational campaign with the university’s school of communication to increase awareness, prevention of and early detection of cancer.

The program also has a specific outreach for female firefighters.

Martine Poitevien, an administrator at Sylvester Cancer Center, said unlike many women in the region who may not have access to care, there’s a different reason why female firefighters need an outreach program.

“(For female firefighters) it’s not that they don’t have access to care, but that they don’t have time,” she said. “They’re working 12-hour shifts, they’re taking care of everybody else, they really don’t have time.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Employee at West Palm Publix accused of stealing from co-worker
Employee at West Palm Publix accused of stealing from co-worker

A West Palm Beach man is accused of stealing a fellow Publix employee’s credit cards then running up charges at a Walmart, according to an arrest report. Jornan Diaz, 18, is facing nine counts of fraud and one larceny count and was released from the Palm Beach County Jail March 16 after posting a $30,000 bond. » Download our PostNOW app...
NEW: Trainer’s license revoked when greyhounds test positive for drugs
NEW: Trainer’s license revoked when greyhounds test positive for drugs

A greyhound trainer based at the Palm Beach Kennel Club had his licensed revoked this month after state investigators found 24 instances where dogs under his care tested positive for drugs before races in 2016. Yoanly Savon’s license was revoked March 8 by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering within the Florida Department of Business and Professional...
Small dog dropped off at West Palm Beach clinic with mouth bound shut
Small dog dropped off at West Palm Beach clinic with mouth bound shut

Veterinarians are working to save the life of a 1-year-old pup who was dropped off at an animal clinic with its mouth bound so tight it cut to the bone. The 7-pound Yorkshire Terrier mix, named Pixie, had an elastic hair tie around her snout that cut a 3/4-inch-deep gash between her eyes and nose, Paws 2 Help founder Eve Van Engel said late Sunday...
Suspect in 2016 Boca drug deal slaying to appear in court today
Suspect in 2016 Boca drug deal slaying to appear in court today

A man believed to be a suspect in a 2016 fatal shooting in Boca Raton has been transported to Palm Beach County Jail and will appear in court Monday morning. Matthew Lewis, 23, faces charges of second-degree murder with a firearm in the June 2016 death of 25-year-old Jacob Walsh. Lewis was booked into the county jail on Saturday. Download our PostNOW...
FHP investigating fatal crash on I-95 in Fort Pierce
FHP investigating fatal crash on I-95 in Fort Pierce

A fatal crash on southbound Interstate 95 early Monday has prompted authorities to close a rest area in St. Lucie County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The crash, near mile marker 132 in Fort Pierce, was reported shortly before 4:40 a.m. Check our live traffic map to plan your commute. FHP’s traffic incidents website said a rest area...
More Stories