Occupation and Cancer Risk
General Risk Factors for Cancer
- Personal characteristics (eg, age, sex, race)
- Family history of cancer
- Lifestyle factors and personal habits (eg, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption)
- Certain medical conditions
- Exposure to cancer-causing agents in the environment
- Exposure to cancer-causing agents in the workplace
Establishing a Link
- Several cases of the same type of cancer, especially if it is not common in the general population
- The presence of a known or suspected cancer-causing agent, and, the occurrence of types of cancers that have been linked with exposures to these agents in other settings
- Past exposures to possible cancer-causing agents in the workplace (often difficult to document)
Cancers Associated With Occupational Exposures
|Cancer||Substances or Processes|
|Lung||Arsenic, asbestos, cadmium, coke oven fumes, chromium compounds, coal gasification, nickel refining, foundry substances, radon, soot, tars, oils, silica|
|Bladder||Aluminum production, rubber industry, leather industry, 4-aminobiphenyl, benzidine|
|Nasal cavities and sinuses||Formaldehyde, isopropyl alcohol manufacture, mustard gas, nickel refining, leather dust, wood dust|
|Larynx||Asbestos, isopropyl alcohol, mustard gas|
|Pharynx||Formaldehyde, mustard gas|
|Mesothelioma (type of lung cancer)||Asbestos|
|Lymphatic and hematopoietic (blood cell producing) system||Benzene, ethylene oxide, herbicides, x-radiation system|
|Skin||Arsenic, coal tars, mineral oils, sunlight|
|Soft-tissue sarcoma||Chlorophenols, chlorophenoxy herbicides|
|Liver||Arsenic, vinyl chloride|
What Can You Do to Decrease Your Risk?
International Agency for Research on Cancer http://www.iarc.fr/
The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/
Occupational Safety and Health Administration http://www.osha.gov/
BC Cancer Agency http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/
American Cancer Society. Occupation and cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/downloads/PRO/occupation.pdf. Published 2006. Accessed June 12, 2012.
Occupational cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/cancer/. Updated February 2, 2012. Accessed on June 12, 2012.
Cancer causes and risk factors. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/causes . Accessed on June 12, 2012.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 06/2012 -
- Update Date: 06/14/2012 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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