Concerns raised after 3 firefighters’ children diagnosed with cancer

WAIPAHU, Hawaii (KHON) — Three children in Hawaii have been diagnosed with cancer in a span of six years.

The latest case is a young girl who was diagnosed in just the past few weeks.

They all have one thing in common: Their fathers all work, or worked, at Fire Station 12 in Waipahu, which is in an industrial area.

The Honolulu Fire Department released a statement Monday that said:

The Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) is extremely concerned about the recent cases of cancer in children of firefighters at the Waipahu Fire Station.

The HFD Medical Director immediately conducted preliminary research into these specific cases and consulted with field experts.

Through a request by the Department of Health, the University of Hawaii Cancer Center is looking at any links between firefighter duties and family members who contract cancer.

The health and well-being of firefighters and their families are of the utmost importance to the HFD. These families are in our thoughts and have the support of our entire department.”

“It wasn’t until the third child that we heard about that we started to raise red flags in regards to some kind of a pattern because all the fathers worked at one fire station,” said Bobby Lee, president of the Hawaii Firefighters Association. “I think at this point in time, the firefighters are clearly concerned. They are talking about possibly not having their children come to the station at all.”

The state Department of Health, which is working with the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, told our sister station KHON on Monday it appears to be a coincidence.

In a statement, the health department said:

DOH working with the UH Cancer Center determined the diagnoses of osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma in the three children of firefighters from the same company within six years appears to be coincidental. There are an average of 4 cases of osteosarcoma and 1 case of Ewing’s sarcoma diagnosed each year in Hawaii and approximately half of these individuals are under 20 years of age. There has not been an increase in the number of cases of osteosarcoma or Ewing’s sarcoma in recent years in Hawaii. Osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma are two different, unrelated diseases and there are no confirmed environmental causes. There is also no evidence that an environmental exposure in a parent can result in increased risk of these cancers in their children. It is generally not recommended that healthy children be screened for these rare cancers and unnecessary exposure to radiation through imaging procedures can be unsafe for children.”

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