New cancer detection technology available for Phoenix police, firefighters

New and cutting-edge technology to detect cancer in first responders is now available for Phoenix fire and police employees.

The service is free and it's all thanks to a partnership with the city and Vincere Cancer Center.

The test is called "Galleri." It's an early detection test that Vincere, the city of Phoenix and its fire and police departments are hoping will help save lives.

"We’re never going to be able to keep firefighters 100% safe. We’re going into burning buildings – that’s our job. That’s what we sign up for, but we’re trying to find ways to mediate how many of us get cancer and how bad it is when we finally find it," explained Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade.

McDade, of course, is hoping none of his firefighters are diagnosed, but if, so he's hoping they will catch it early and be able to treat it. That will hopefully be the reality thanks to the new test.

Dr. Vershalee Shukla with Vincere Cancer Center, says, "What it is, is it's a simple blood test or something called a ‘liquid biopsy' and it looks for methylated DNA patterns in the blood and from that, it can detect a cancer signal. So it’s a first of its kind for early detection and we use this technology in late-stage cancer, but we’ve never used it in early-stage to detect cancer."

McDade says occupational cancer is on the rise and more firefighters are being diagnosed at a young age.

"If you look at the materials, the way they make them buildings, couches, the chemicals they make it. It’s not even really wood anymore in these buildings, that’s the stuff we’re breathing in and that’s the stuff that’s killing our firefighters so we’re trying everything we can to combat this and prevent it," McDade said.

Vincere is hoping other cities will sign on to offer the test to its first responders.

Each test costs about $1,000.

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