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Many factors can cause cancer, including genetic factors, lifestyle risk factors and factors related to occupational and environmental exposures to chemicals and radiations. It is difficult to know whether a particular case of cancer has been caused by work. Therefore, it is difficult to count the total number of occupational cancers.  However, researchers have estimated the proportion of all new cases in the national cancer statistics that could be due to work by looking at the number of workers who had been exposed to cancer causing agents at work in the past and the risk of cancer from these exposures. Base on the estimated proportion, they calculated the number of newly diagnosed cancer cases (cancer registrations) in 2004 and cancer deaths in 2005 that could be due to work in Great Britain. The researchers have also developed methods to estimate the number of occupational cancer cases in the future for a range of scenarios. This will enable us to compare the potential impacts of different interventions on occupational cancer reduction.

Key points

Figure 1: Occupational cancer deaths by cause in Great Britain, 2005

Figure 1: Occupational cancer deaths by cause in Great Britain, 2005

*These are based on many assumptions and subject to considerable uncertainty. Both known and probable occupational carcinogens have been included in the estimates.

Updated 2014-02-12