SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Phoenix first responders are some of the first in the country to get a brand-new type of cancer screening, and it’s as easy as a blood test. The Galleri test is a game changer that screens for 50 different types of cancers at the same time and can find them in early stages.
At Vincere Cancer Center in Scottsdale, firefighters and police officers were eager to get the major health check on Tuesday.
“On my way over here I was telling folks, ‘I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know.’ But ultimately, down deep inside, you do want to know,” said Phoenix Police Assistant Chief Steve Martos.
Three years ago, Phoenix offered a month of free cancer screenings to first responders. Now the city has budgeted money for them to take this new test, which can look at DNA in the blood and determine whether it came from cancer cells. It’s much quicker and less invasive than traditional cancer screening methods like mammograms and colonoscopies.
“It takes time for them to do something like a whole-body MRI. This is very minimal effort required,” said radiational oncologist Dr. Vershalee Shukla. “It’s something easy to do. I can do it in the masses.”
First responders are at a higher risk of cancer because of the toxins, stresses and strange sleep schedules they face on the job. “We were seeing first responders in their 30’s dying of late stage cancers. This is why we started the program in the first place,” said Dr. Pablo Prichard.
“They’ve caught some early diagnoses, and these folks are now getting treatment because of this,” said Phoenix Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner.
The test is more than 99% accurate in determining what type of cancer someone might have, and almost 90% accurate in figuring out where the cancer started. “You need to know. I mean, the earlier, the better. The statistics are there. I went from ‘Do I really want to do this test?’ to ‘I absolutely want to do this test,'” said Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade as he was getting his blood drawn.
In just 7 to 10 days, they get results back from the lab, in what doctors call the most progressive screening process around.
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