Sean Marchese: Why Firefighters, First Responders Have High Rate of Mesothelioma and Cancer

Sean Marchese, a registered nurse and oncology writer at The Mesothelioma Center with a background in respiratory and thoracic oncology clinical trials, joins the show again. First, Sean reveals why cancer is so prevalent in firefighters. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death in firefighters. They have a higher risk of cancer because these men and women consistently put themselves in danger. When you’re engulfed in smoke and toxic chemicals, that exposure will build up over time. Tune in as Sean dives into the dangers of asbestos, how firefighters can protect themselves from asbestos exposure, and resources for firefighters with health conditions. 

In This Episode:

  • [02:25] Meet Sean Marchese. Sean explains why the top cause of death for firefighters is cancer. 
  • [05:35] About mesothelioma. Sean dives into the most prominent cause of mesothelioma – asbestos.  
  • [12:40] Those involved in the 9/11 attacks were heavily affected by the dust cloud that remained in the air for days.    
  • [13:45] The other conditions that can come from asbestos exposure.  
  • [15:45] How firefighters can protect themselves from asbestos exposure. 
  • [19:50] Resources for firefighters who suspect they are having health issues. 

Key Takeaways:

  • There is long-term damage for firefighters who are exposed to chemicals and smoke. Often, this damage will lead to cancer. 
  • Firefighters are two and half times more likely to develop mesothelioma compared to the regular population. 
  • Asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma. 
  • When a firefighter brings their equipment home, they could be exposing their family to asbestos. 
  • Mesothelioma can show up twenty to forty years later.



Phone: 407-569-3185


Sean’s Email:

International Association of Firefighters:
National Fire Protection Association:
International Associate of Fire Chiefs:
Firefighter Cancer Support:
Firefighter Cancer Foundation:

Meet Sean Marchese

Sean Marchese is a registered nurse and oncology writer at The Mesothelioma Center with a background in respiratory and thoracic oncology clinical trials. He has assisted physicians with the development of chemotherapy and surgical planning for patients with early-stage and extensive-stage head, neck and thoracic cancers. As a registered nurse, Sean has worked with cancer patients undergoing pain management therapies and patients with brain and nervous system cancers in an inpatient setting. Sean graduated with a Master of Science in medical sciences at the University of South Florida in 2012 and a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and cell science from the University of Florida in 2010.

He has over 10 years in clinical experience and over six years in clinical research. Sean has planned and led experimental clinical trials in oncology involving TTFields, immunotherapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. He has been a member of the American Nurses Association since 2017.