Multiple factors can cause cancer and it is difficult to know whether a particular case of cancer has been caused by work. However, we can estimate the proportion of all new cancer cases that could be due to work by looking at the number of workers who have been exposed to known cancer causing agents and the risk of cancer from that exposure.
- About 8 000 cancer deaths and 13 500 new cases of cancer each year could be due to work
- The most common forms of cancer leading to death are lung cancer and mesothelioma
- The leading cause of cancer death is occupational exposure to asbestos
- Other major causes of occupational cancer include shift work, solar radiation, mineral oils and silica
- Construction industry has the largest burden of occupational cancer, attributing to 3 500 cancer deaths and 5 500 cancer registrations each year.
Figure 1: Occupational cancer deaths by cause in Great Britain, 2005