ICYMI: Pancreatic and Thyroid Cancer Coverage Now Provided for Ontario Firefighters


The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) shared in March 2023 that firefighters in Ontario would now have presumptive pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer coverage. Presumptive coverage means that firefighters who have worked for a certain number of years would receive worker’s compensation benefits if they developed a certain number of health conditions, which are now considered occupational. Thyroid and pancreatic cancer join a list of other conditions eligible for presumptive coverage, such as: 

The addition of pancreatic and thyroid cancer to presumptive coverage is retroactive to 1960. Ontario is now one of 10 provinces, 3 territories, and 6 jurisdictions to provide presumptive coverage, and one of 6 jurisdictions that provides coverage for 19 different oncological indications. 

In the future, the IAFF hopes to remove PFAS chemicals from firefighting gear and create a national framework centered around occupational health issues, and preventative measures, in firefighting. 

Learn more about presumptive coverage in Ontario here

About Thyroid Cancer and Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is a small organ that sits behind the stomach; it reduces enzymes and hormones to help regulate different processes in the body. Pancreatic cancer forms in the pancreas: normally in the ducts, but occasionally in neuroendocrine cells. Smoking, obesity, being male, being older in age, and having a family history of pancreatic cancer increase the risk. Symptoms often don’t appear until the cancer has progressed. These symptoms include jaundice, appetite loss, fatigue, abdominal pain that radiates to the back, dark urine and pale stools, blood clots, unintended weight loss, and newly onset diabetes. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer comes with a poor prognosis; the 5-year survival rate is 12%. 

Thyroid cancer forms in the thyroid, a gland at the base of the throat that creates hormones to regulate blood pressure, weight, temperature, and heart rate. This cancer occurs more often in females than males. There are different subtypes of thyroid cancer, such as follicular, anaplastic, and medullary. Scientists don’t know the exact cause of thyroid cancer. Radiation exposure, a family history of thyroid cancer, and genetic diseases like multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A increase the risk. Symptoms may include a lump in the neck, hoarseness or vocal changes, a chronic cough, swollen lymph nodes, pain and swelling, and difficulty breathing and swallowing.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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