Budget conference: Univ. of Miami’s Firefighter Cancer Initiative gets $2 million
Image via Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center's Firefighter Cancer Initiative.

UMiami FIrefighter Cancer
The CDC has published Sylvester Cancer Center's research studying the particular cancer hazards for firefighters.

Sylvester Cancer Center’s fight against firefighter cancer is likely to get a $2 million boost from the state, according to budget documents released Wednesday.

Sylvester’s Firefighter Cancer Initiative was launched in 2015 to address the increased incidence of cancer among those who rush into burning buildings. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows firefighters are 9% more likely to get cancer than the general population and 14% more likely to die from it.

Both the Senate and the House appear to agree it’s worth the cost of trying to put out that malignant conflagration, according to budget documents.

Miami Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis Jr.’s request for $2 million in nonrecurring funds for the Sylvester Cancer Center will be funded at 100% next year, documents from the Conference Committee on House State Administration & Technology and Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations show.

The money would pay for a mobile clinic to screen firefighters and study the occupational cancer hazards unique to specific firefighter divisions, such as the Urban Search and Rescue Teams that responded to the Surfside disaster. Researching ways to reduce the risk is also on the initiative’s to-do list.

Sylvester’s Firefighter Cancer Initiative’s research has already uncovered that male firefighters are more likely to develop bladder, thyroid and testicular cancer. For female firefighters, the risks for thyroid and cervical cancer and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma increase.

Some of the initiative’s research has already appeared in CDC publications.

The request says the effort might need $1 to $3 million in state money over the next five years.

Aloupis’ request shows that the federal government has committed to chipping in $3.3 million for increasing screenings, wide scale education and prevention efforts. And that’s not all.

“We have received external funding … totaling nearly $7 million,” the request says.

Already, the Firefighter Cancer Initiative has engaged some 8,000 firefighters, according to Aloupis’ request.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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