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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.

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
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; 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; Roofers; Uranium mining; Vineyard workers
Bladder Aromatic amines (e.g. 4,4'-Methylene bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA), para-Chloroaniline, 2,6-Dimethylaniline (2,6-Xylidine)); Benzidine-based dyes; Benzo[a]pyrene; Coal tars & pitches; Diesel engine exhaust; Mineral oils (untreated and mildly treated); ortho-Toluidine Barbers; Cable makers; Calendar operatives; Chemical/petroleum workers; Coke production; Dry cleaners; Firefighters; Gas-retort house workers; Hairdressers; Machinists; Manufacturing of: magenta, auramine, p-chloro-o-toluidine, pigment chromate, and dyes; Miners; Painters; Pipefitters; Plumbers; Rubber or dye industries; Sheet metal workers; Synthetic latex production; Tire curing;
Mesothelioma Asbestos; Talc containing asbestiform fibres Blasters; Boilermakers; Bricklayers; Construction workers; Drillers; Electricians; Machinists; Mechanics; Miners; Pipefitters; Plumbers; Sheet metal workers; Shipbuilding workers; Welders
Leukemia Benzene; Ethylene oxide; Ionizing radiation; Boot and shoe manufacturing and repair; Firefighters; Rubber industry
Laryngeal cancer Asbestos; Mineral oils; Sulfuric acid Isopropanol manufacture; Pickling operations
Skin Arsenic and arsenic compounds; Coal tar & pitches; 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; Vineyard workers
Nasal cavities & paranasal sinuses Chromium (hexavalent) compounds; Formaldehyde; Selected nickel compounds including combinations of nickel oxides & 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
Kidney Trichloroethylene (renal cell) Coke production
Liver & biliary tract Ionizing radiation; Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); Trichloroethylene Dry cleaning; Electrical components; Electricity generation, production, distribution, repair
Liver Arsenic and arsenic compounds; Occupational infections with hepatitis B and C; Vinyl chloride (angiosarcoma, hepatocellular) Health care workers; Smelting of ores containing arsenic; Pesticide application; Vinyl chloride production; Wood preservation
Bone Ionizing radiation --
Brain Nonarsenical insecticides Firefighters
Cervix Tetrachloroethylene Laundry and dry cleaners
CNS Epichlorohydrin Epichlorohydrin production
Colorectal Acrylonitrile Acrylonitrile production; Firefighters
Esophagus Tetrachloroethylene Dry cleaning
Gastrointestinal tract Asbestos Asbestos mining; Insulation material production (pipes, sheeting, textiles, clothes, masks, asbestos cement products); Insulators and pipe coverers; Shipyard and dockyard workers
Larynx Asbestos; Strong inorganic acid mists containing sulfuric acid Insulation material production (pipes, sheeting, textiles, clothes, masks, asbestos cement products); Insulators and pipe coverers; Isopropanol manufacture (strong-acid process); Shipyard and dockyard workers
Lymphohematopoietic 1,3-Butadiene 1,3-Butadiene production; Styrene-butadiene rubber production
Lymphoma (non-Hodgkin) Nonarsenical insecticides; 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD); Tetrachloroethylene; Trichloroethylene Dry cleaning; Farmers, farm workers; Firefighters; Insecticide application
Pancreas Acrylamide Chemists and other laboratory workers; Tanners and processors
Pharynx & nasopharynx Formaldehyde Embalmers; Formaldehyde production; Laboratory workers; Medical personnel; Plywood production / particle-board production
Thyroid Ionizing radiation --

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)

Document last updated on March 3, 2008

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