Cancer incidence and mortality in serving whole-time Scottish firefighters 1984-2005

Occup Med (Lond). 2014 Sep;64(6):421-7. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqu080. Epub 2014 Jul 7.

Abstract

Background: Firefighters may encounter uncontrolled exposure to carcinogens in their working environment.

Aims: To determine the incidence of, and mortality from, cancer in a cohort of ~2200 serving firefighters.

Methods: Service medical records were scrutinized for reports of malignancies. Age at recruitment and diagnosis was calculated, and annual incidence and mortality rates per 100000 population were derived and compared with age-matched male Scottish populations.

Results: Overall mean annual cancer incidence and mortality rates were lower in the firefighters (86.5 versus 123.7, P < 0.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] -290.3 to -209.7 and 20.4 versus 59.9, P < 0.001, 95% CI -57.5 to -22.5, respectively). The incidences of melanoma and kidney cancer were higher (13.6 versus 7.7, P < 0.001 95% CI 3.0 to 8.8 and 9.1 versus 4.4, P < 0.01, 95% CI 2.4 to 6.7) as was mortality from kidney cancer (6.5 versus 1.9, P < 0.01, 95% CI 2.8 to 6.4). Testicular cancer occurred more frequently than expected (9.1 versus 8.1), but did not reach statistical significance. Large bowel (9.1 versus 13.8), lung cancer (6.8 versus 20.4) and lymphoma (9.1 versus 11.0) all had a lower than expected incidence. This was significant regarding large bowel (P < 0.01, 95% CI -7.7 to -1.7) and lung (P < 0.001, 95% CI -7.7 to 1.0). Mortality was also lower--large bowel 4.5 versus 6.0, lung 4.5 versus 16.8 and lymphoma 2.3 versus 3.3, but this did not reach significance. Mean age and length of service at diagnosis were 43 years (range 28-54) and 19 years (range 2-31), respectively.

Conclusions: These results are generally consistent with other studies of firefighters. The most common tumours were generally those associated with young and middle-aged men.

Keywords: Cancer; cancer skin; epidemiology.; firefighters; local authority; lung cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinogens
  • Female
  • Firefighters* / statistics & numerical data
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Scotland / epidemiology

Substances

  • Carcinogens