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 From left to right. Kelly Piller, Dr. Stephen Hecht, Dr. Dorothy Hatsukami, Sylvette Lopez

From left to right. Kelly Piller, Dr. Stephen Hecht, Dr. Dorothy Hatsukami, Sylvette Lopez

Masonic Cancer Center Partners with Minnesota Firefighters Foundation on Cancer Research Study

Led by renowned cancer researchers, Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD, and Stephen Hecht, PhD, a new study out of the University of Minnesota will be focused on cancer risk in firefighters, thanks to a new partnership between the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Firefighters Foundation.

The idea for this study came from current firefighter and MNFFF.org board member, Kelly Piller, who saw a similar research project in action with colleagues in Florida.

“I have so much passion for this and pride being a firefighter, I want to stop at nothing to make sure that we are able to gather as much information as possible regarding cancer in the fire service,” said Piller, a second-generation fire service veteran. “By partnering with Drs. Hecht and Hatsukami, we know we have the best minds in the business at work for our health and safety.”

The study will focus on several types of cancer such as skin, oral, non-hodgkin's lymphoma, testicular, bone, brain, prostate, stomach, and colon. Firefighters are not only more likely to be diagnosed with certain kinds of cancer, but also their chances of getting lung cancer and dying from leukemia directly increase as exposure to fire increases over time because most departments oftentimes don’t have the best safety equipment available. This can lead to increased rates of exposure, which has negative effects on the firefighters health.

We look forward to our collaborative efforts to reduce the risk of cancer in our Minnesota firefighters,” said Hatsukami. “They protect the citizens of Minnesota and we need to protect them.”

About the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota is a Comprehensive Cancer Center designated by the National Cancer Institute. For more than 25 years, researchers, educators, and care providers have worked to discover the causes, prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer and cancer-related disease. Learn more at cancer.umn.edu.

About the Minnesota Firefighters Foundation

MNFFF.org was founded by firefighters in a few communities outside the twin cities who were concerned about the staggering number of deaths being attributed to ongoing health risks on the job. These firefighters began to think of ways to give back and make it their mission to help firefighters and fire departments with getting the word out about not only the challenges of being a firefighter but also the increased number of cases where firefighters have been diagnosed with serious health issues. The “wear your mask” campaign is about providing a quicker solution to help purchase the necessary equipment through fundraisers and private donations.


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