IAFF initiative leads to early detection of prostate cancer in Edmonton firefighter

January 23, 2024

Edmonton Local 209 President, Greg Rehman’s early prostate cancer diagnosis, attributed to the International Association of Fire Fighters’ (IAFF) Wellness-Fitness Initiative (WFI), highlights the importance of occupational health programs for firefighters.

Diagnosed at 44, a notably young age for prostate cancer, Rehman’s case underscores the unique health risks firefighters face.

Early detection through the Wellness-Fitness Initiative

The IAFF’s WFI program played a critical role in the early detection of Rehman’s cancer.

Regular medical screenings, part of the WFI, identified abnormal rises in Rehman’s prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, leading to an early diagnosis.

“There was nothing going on, my life was normal. But as part of my annual medical through our department and our WFI program, they screen for prostate cancer prior to age 50.

“So I was able to track my PSA levels,” said Rehman, highlighting the initiative’s proactive approach.

The significance of active monitoring in prostate cancer management

Rehman’s case also brings attention to the strategy of active monitoring in prostate cancer treatment.

Avoiding immediate surgery, this approach involves regular monitoring and intervenes medically only when necessary.

Rehman emphasized the benefits of this method, including the avoidance of surgery’s side effects and the potential for future medical advancements to play a role in treatment if the cancer progresses.

Raising awareness of firefighters’ health risks

The Canadian Cancer Society reports that prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men.

Firefighters, due to their occupation, are at a heightened risk.

Studies have confirmed this increased risk, leading to presumptive legislation in many provinces that recognizes certain cancers, including prostate cancer, as occupational for firefighters.

Rehman’s experience has spurred him to advocate for early cancer screening and education in the firefighting community.

FSJA Comment

Greg Rehman’s experience with early prostate cancer detection, thanks to the IAFF Wellness-Fitness Initiative, is a compelling example of how occupational health programs can have a profound impact on individual lives and broader public health initiatives.

The successful early detection in Rehman’s case provided him with more treatment options and a better prognosis and highlights the unique health risks associated with firefighting.

This story emphasizes the need for continued support and development of such health and wellness programs for firefighters, who face distinct challenges due to their profession.

As more departments and organizations recognize and adopt these practices, the potential for improving health outcomes and quality of life for firefighters increases significantly.

This example also serves as a reminder of the importance of regular health screenings and proactive healthcare, not just in high-risk professions but for all individuals.

Read Next

Subscribe Now