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New tests available for Austintown firefighters to screen for 5




New tests available for Austintown firefighters to screen for 5 – WFMJ.com Weather Sports News for Youngstown-Warren Ohio







New tests available for Austintown firefighters to screen for 50 types of cancer

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Fire departments across the country, including here in the Mahoning Valley, are taking steps to more widely test firefighters for cancer, as it is the number one cause of death in the field.

The Austintown Fire Department votes for the first time to approve the purchase of unique cancer screening tests, following recommendations from University Hospitals to use the new technology that exists to test firefighters for 50 types of cancer.

This includes people aged 40 and over or with a family history of cancer.

Austintown Fire Chief Andy Frost said cancer screening technology is a game changer and he looks forward to taking advantage of it to help first responders prioritize their health.

“This is a great opportunity that has been presented to us and if we could take advantage of it, I think it would be a very good thing,” Frost said. “There’s a lot of screening for colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate… there’s about five of those. That’s good screening. We’re not trying to replace that, but this goes beyond the screenings of the regular five(s).

The Virginia Beach Fire Department has used the same tests that Austintown plans to use, called “Galleri” by the Grail brand.

It’s no surprise that those who risk their lives to respond to fires are at a much greater risk of developing cancer, and Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters President Max Gonano said more needs to be done to prioritize cancer screening for first responders.

“Every house fire we go to contains about 140 different carcinogens,” Gonano said.

The Galleri tests use a blood sample and, according to the company, are among the only tests on the market that can screen for so many cancers at once.

Scientist Dr. Grail’s Eric Klein said Americans don’t screen for 70 percent of the cancers that kill people, and because firefighters are at higher risk, they could especially benefit from that.

“What we’ve seen in our clinical trials is that when we use these tests in populations at risk for cancer, we catch a lot of cancers that people might not otherwise know about at earlier stages, when they are more curable be,” Klein said. “The hope is that in the long term we will indeed show that we are saving lives.”

After the Virginia Beach Fire Department used the tests on its crews, the department discovered that two of them were surprised to discover they were cancer positive.

One Virginia Beach firefighter tested positive for esophageal cancer and continues to be treated, and the other tested positive for Hodgkin lymphoma.

“They are very grateful that they had the opportunity to undergo the test because their cancer was discovered while they were asymptomatic,” Gonano said. “They didn’t know they had cancer, so their cancer was caught early, where treatment can make a difference.”

Austintown said the tests will cost about $27,000 and come from the fire department’s general fund, with the help of University Hospitals to help with testing and follow-up afterward.

Frost points out that other Valley departments, including Canfield Fire, are also jumping on board and using forms of new cancer screening tools.