A team of MGH clinicians and other lung cancer advocates stopped by the Boston Fire Department District 3 firehouse on Cambridge Street Nov. 1 to kick off National Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Lecia Sequist, MD, MPH, of the MGH Cancer Center, and Erica Warner, ScD, MPH, of the Department of Medicine, were joined by former NFL player and longtime lung cancer advocate Chris Draft, and by members of the White Ribbon Project, as part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness among firefighters about the risks of lung cancer – the No. 1 cancer killer in America – due to their exposure to smoke, chemicals and other toxins. The group also promoted the importance of early lung cancer screening – and early CT scanning available to firefighters – to prevent and detect lung cancer early, when it is most treatable.

"Lung cancer screening can identify tumors at earlier, more treatable stages," says Sequist. "It also can scan for additional health risks like coronary calcifications around the heart.”

Low-dose chest CT screening is available to firefighters with 10 years of service, or who are 40 to 70 years old. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study concluded that firefighters have a 10% incidence of cancer than the general population due to their exposure to smoke, chemicals and other toxins.

Sequist and Warner are embarking on a clinical trial to determine how early CT scan intervention among firefighters may contribute to lower rates of cancer in this population.

"Spreading the word about early CT screening that may save their lives is the least we can do for the men and women who risk their lives to save ours," says Warner.

In addition to the District 3 firehouse, the team also visited firehouses in Malden, Revere and Somerville.