Understanding Cancer Survivorship among Firefighters: A Mixed-Method Study

Natasha Schaefer Solle, Amy Legros, Rachael Jackson, Apoorva Rangan, Cynthia Campos Beaver, Hannah Kling, Fatima Khan, Tulay Koru-Sengul, Frank J. Penedo, Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, Erin N. Kobetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Firefighters are exposed to a unique set of carcinogens through their work environment that predispose them to several cancers, yet there is limited research related to cancer survivorship amongst this occupational group. Methods: A mixed-method approach was used to assess cancer survivorship amongst firefighters. Four focus groups and one in-depth interview were conducted with 29 active and retired firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer to understand the experiences and challenges associated with cancer survivorship in the fire service and desired resources. Qualitative data were analyzed using Nvivo software. All participants completed the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G) survey to assess their quality of life. Results: The primary themes that emerged from the focus groups included managing health and well-being changes, navigating support systems in place, and accessing new resources. FACT-G scores (mean ± standard deviation) of the firefighter cancer survivor sample demonstrate relatively lower levels of emotional well-being (19.26 ± 4.67) and higher quality of life in the physical well-being (23.67 ± 5.08), social well-being (23.38 ± 4.16), and functional well-being (22.6 ± 4.966) domains. Conclusions: Firefighters requested curated resources, such as support groups and department training resources, supporting the need for more cancer survivorship resources specific to firefighters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number257
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • mixed methods
  • occupational health
  • survivorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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