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Cancer Sites Associated with Occupational Exposures

Is exposure to a specific carcinogen associated with a certain type of cancer?

In many cases, certain types of cancer are associated with specific carcinogens. The table below lists some of these associations.

Please note: This list was complied from information available from reputable sources, but it is not complete. It represents associations that have been reported in literature between certain types of cancer and specific carcinogen exposures.

Exposure to a carcinogen does not necessarily mean that you will develop cancer. The OSH Answers on Occupational Cancer has more information.

Some Cancer Sites Associated with Occupational or Environmental Carcinogen Exposures
Cancer Site Examples of High-risk Substances Examples of High-risk Processes, Industries and Occupations with Increased Risks
Bladder (urinary) Aromatic amines (e.g. 4,4'-Methylene bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA), para-Chloroaniline, 2,6-Dimethylaniline (2,6-Xylidine)); Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds; Benzidine and benzidine-based dyes; Benzo[a]pyrene; Coal tars & pitches; Diesel engine exhaust; Tetrachloroethylene; ortho-Toluidine Barbers; Cable makers; Calendar operatives; Chemical/petroleum workers; Coke production; Dry cleaners; Firefighters; Gas-retort house workers; Hairdressers; Machinists; Manufacturing of: aluminum, magenta, auramine, p-chloro-o-toluidine, pigment chromate, textiles, and dyes; Miners; Painters; Pipefitters; Plumbers; Rubber production; Sheet metal workers; Synthetic latex production; Tire curing
Bone Ionizing radiation --
Brain and Central Nervous System (CNS) Ionizing radiation --
Breast Ethylene oxide; Ionizing radiation; Polychorinated biphenyls Shiftwork that involves circadian disruption
Colon and rectum Asbestos; Ionizing radiation --
Esophagus Ionizing radiation Dry cleaning; Rubber production industry
Eye -- Welding, Solar radiation
Kidney Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds; Cadmium and cadmium compounds; Perfluorooctanoic acid; Trichloroethylene Printing processes
Larynx Acid mists, strong inorganic; Asbestos Insulation material production (pipes, sheeting, textiles, clothes, masks, asbestos cement products); Insulators and pipe coverers; Isopropanol manufacture (strong-acid process); Rubber production industry; Shipyard and dockyard workers
Leukemia and/or lymphoma Benzene; 1,3-Butadiene; Diazinon; Formaldehyde; Ethylene oxide; Lindane; Ionizing radiation; Malathion; Methylene chloride; Styrene; Trichloroethylene Boot and shoe manufacturing and repair; Firefighters; Painting; Petroleum refining; Rubber industry
Liver and bile duct Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds; 1,2-Dichloropropane, Methylene chloride; Ionizing radiation; Occupational infections with hepatitis B and C; Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); Trichloroethylene Health care workers; Smelting of ores containing arsenic; Vinyl chloride production; Wood preservation
Lung Arsenic and arsenic compounds; Asbestos; Benzo[a]pyrene; Beryllium; 1,3-Butadiene; Cadmium & cadmium compounds; Chromium (hexavalent) compounds; Coal tars & pitches; Diesel engine exhaust; Epichlorohydrin; Fibrous silicon carbide; Ionizing radiation; Mineral oils (untreated and mildly treated); Nickel and nickel compounds; Radon; Silica (crystalline); Soots; Strong inorganic acid mists containing sulfuric acid; Talc containing asbestiform fibers; 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD); Tobacco smoke - Involuntary (passive) smoking Aluminum production; Asphalt workers; Coal gasification; Copper smelting; Hematite mining (underground) with radon exposure; Iron and steel founding; Isopropanol manufacture (strong acid process); Painters; Printing processes; Roofers; Rubber production; Uranium mining; Vineyard workers; Welding fumes
Mesothelioma Asbestos; Talc containing asbestiform fibres Blasters; Boilermakers; Bricklayers; Construction workers; Drillers; Electricians; Machinists; Mechanics; Miners; Pipefitters; Plumbers; Sheet metal workers; Shipbuilding workers; Welders
Nasal cavities and paranasal sinuses Chromium (hexavalent) compounds; Formaldehyde; Selected nickel compounds including combinations of nickel oxides and sulfides in the nickel refining industry; Wood dust Boot and shoe manufacturing and repair; Carpenters; Furniture and cabinet making; Isopropanol manufacture (strong acid process); Miners; Plumbers; Pulp and paper mill workers; Textile workers; Welders
Nasopharynx Formaldehyde; Wood dust Embalmers; Formaldehyde production; Laboratory workers; Medical personnel; Plywood production / particle-board production
Ovary Asbestos; Ionizing radiation --
Prostate Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds; Cadmium and cadmium compounds; Ionizing radiation; Malathion Rubber production industry
Skin Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds; Coal tar distillation; Creosotes; Mineral oils (untreated and mildly treated); Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) like benzo[a]pyrene, benz[a]anthracene, and dibenz[a,h]anthracene; Shale oils or shale-derived lubricants; Solar radiation; Soots Coal gasification; Coke production; Outdoor workers; Petroleum refining; Vineyard workers
Stomach Asbestos; Lead compounds, inorganic; Ionizing radiation Asbestos mining; Insulation material production (pipes, sheeting, textiles, clothes, masks, asbestos cement products); Insulators and pipe coverers; Rubber production industry; Shipyard and dockyard workers

Adapted from:

Current perspectives on occupational cancer risks. P. Bofetta, et al. International journal of occupational and environmental health, Vol. 1, no. 4 (1995). p. 315-325

Carex: Most Common Occupational Exposures to IARC Agents- Ontario/British Columbia, Canada 2001 Census Data - 09-Jan-08

Occupational Medicine Clinical Update - Occupational Carcinogens - What makes it on the list. Fall 2005 - Occupational Health Workers for Ontario Workers Inc. (OHCOW)

ILO SafeWork Papers - Safety in the Use of Chemicals. Chapter 2 - Health and Safety Problems Caused by Chemicals

Listing occupational carcinogens. J. Siemiatycki, et al. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 112, no. 15 (2004). p. 1447-1459

Perceptions of the causes of bladder cancer, nasal cancer, and mesothelioma among cases and population controls. K. Teschke and L. van Zwieten. Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, Vol. 14, no. 12 (1999). p. 819-826

World Health Organization. Prevention of occupational cancer. The Global Occupational Health Network (GOHNET) Newsletter, Issue No. 11 (2006)

List of classifications by cancer sites with sufficient or limited evidence in humans, Volumes 1 to 114. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Last updated: 4 November, 2015

Document last updated on October 3, 2016


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