BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As Lung Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, Roswell Park is expanding its life-saving lung cancer early detection program.

Early Detection Driven to You” — “Eddy” for short — is Roswell Park’s lung cancer screening unit on wheels. The Comprehensive Cancer Center will now use Eddy to reduce the cancer burden for our first responders.

Roswell Park has offered lung cancer screening since 1998 for people who are at high risk of developing the disease. Inside Eddy, you’ll find a fully functional CT scanner, funded by New York State, to make it even easier for people to get screened.

“Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer and it kills more people than all the other major cancers combined, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Mary Reid, Ph.D., MSPH, Roswell Park’s Chief of Cancer Screening and Survivorship. “You can live after lung cancer if you have it picked up early.”

Tuesday morning, experts from Roswell Park joined Buffalo firefighters and elected officials at the Buffalo Fire Department’s Rescue 1 Quarters on Jefferson Avenue to announce a new program that will bring this state-of-the-art screening technology directly to firefighters.

“Increased awareness and early detection is the cornerstone of this latest endeavor,” said Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo. “Pride, honor and tradition are the three words that form the backbone of the entire firefighting profession. Traditions live long. Now let’s work together to ensure that our firefighters enjoy the quality of life they deserve after long years of dedicated service to their community.”

This partnership is one of the first in the nation to screen all firefighters, regardless of their smoking history. Roswell Park says getting them early detection testing is crucial, given their extreme occupational risk.

“We all know our firefighters, who put their life on the line every day, they’re at high risk for lung cancer and other issues related to inhaling the toxic things that they do,” said Candace Johnson, Ph.D., President and CEO of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. “

According to Roswell Park, while studies have found that firefighters face a 60% increased risk of developing lung cancer, a majority of firefighters do not qualify for lung cancer early detection.

“For [Roswell Park] to be here, partnering with [the Buffalo Fire Department] to try to mitigate and prevent the occurrence of lung cancer among the firefighters in this community is just a great thing,” said former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield. “I just thank you and applaud you for meeting people where they are, for providing that service; and I’m sure it’s going to help save lives in this community and in this department. It’s an example for the rest of the country to follow.”

Eddy isn’t just for firefighters, but the entire community — especially medically underserved and racially diverse populations. Roswell Park says only 6% of eligible New Yorkers have been screened for lung cancer, causing more patients to advance to late stages of the disease.

“When we talk about this community, we know there’s great disparity in getting access to a low-dose CT,” Dr. Reid said. “This was a concerted effort because we want to change the outcome of lung cancer for people in Western New York and across the state.”

“We set out to make lung cancer screening easier, more accessible and more equitable so that everyone who should be screened can be screened,” Dr. Johnson said. “We have a tremendous opportunity here to save a lot of lives.”

According to Roswell Park, the entire screening process takes 10 minutes, and you’ll get your results within a week. They say you should be screened for lung cancer if you have a history of cancer of the lung, esophagus, head or neck, or the following three factors:

  • Age 50 to 79
  • 20 Pack/Years of smoking history
  • Smoked within the past 15 years, even if you no longer smoke

You can find more information — including upcoming screening locations and frequently asked questions — here.

Jordan Norkus is an award-winning anchor who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.