AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – When a fire happens, crews rush from the station to put it out, potentially saving lives. At the same time, those first responders put themselves at risk.

“The sacrifice that all the men and women made, not just the rescuers, but the lives lost, civilians lives lost, carrying on the tradition of the fire department and public safety,” Bryan Adams, GVW Fire Department President told NewsChannel 6 last year.

Each year, the CSRA reflects and honors those men and women first responders who died during 9-11 at Tunnel to Towers. 420 first responders lost their lives on September 11th and 343 were fire fighters. Now, health officials are more aware of the connection between the job and cancer.

“They’re at about a 10 percent higher risk of developing cancer because of what they do,” said Dr. Dan Miller, Thoracic Surgery Director & Georgia Cancer Center Surgical Director. “And also, there is about a 15 percent chance that it’s more likely they will die from a malignancy related to their exposures.”

While smoking has always been the most common cause of lung cancer, Dr. Miller with the Medical College of Georgia told us there’s a new alert for the organ that helps you breath. Being a fire fighter.

“When you’re a fire fighter, you get exposed to other things such as asbestos, smoke, soot, other chemicals at the fire,” he said.

The International Association of Fire Fighters released new data for Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month this January. Last year, almost 75 percent of the names added to its memorial wall were members who died from occupational cancer. Dr. Miller said job exposure can lead to a variety of carcinogens.

He said, “Lung cancer, head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, bladder cancer, but also the liquid cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.”

But there is hope. Dr. Miller said fire fighters should be proactive by getting a CT scan of their chest. Also, you should practice good lung health by seeing a pulmonary doctor and always wearing respiratory devices.

“You’ve got 30 pounds of stuff on your back,” Dr. Miller explained. “You’re in this fire. You’ve got this on, this is saving your life and during the clean up part you take it off. And then that’s when you set yourself up to get a secondary exposure.”

And if cancer is detected, Dr. Miller said there is now chemotherapy that is targeted, helping each person differently.