Every year thousands of people worldwide suffer from occupational or work-related cancers which have become the leading cause of deaths. Exposure to physical, chemical or biological causative agents in the work environment like radon gas, air pollution and infectious agents can cause cancer.
Causes and Symptoms of Occupation Related Cancers
Occupational exposure to certain industrial chemicals, radiation and processes has been tied to occupational cancer. Exposure to carcinogens may causemutationsthat allow abnormal cells to grow out of control and progress to cancer.
Carcinogens are cancer causing agents at work place that increase the incidence of Occupational cancer. The three different types of occupational carcinogens include biological carcinogens that are microorganisms like Hepatitis B, HIV viruses causing cancer by damaging cells directly or attacking the defence mechanism; chemical carcinogens manufactured or by-products of industrial processes like asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other emissions; physical carcinogens such as ionising and ultraviolet radiation can also cause cancer.
Industrial or medical exposure to radon gas and ionizing radiation can cause cancer in the workplace. Examples of ionising radiation include alpha, beta, gamma and X-rays. Chemical carcinogens include arsenic,beryllium,cadmium andnickelcompounds. Leather or wood dusts, coal tar volatiles, asbestos, silica,coke ovenemissions,diesel exhaustandtobacco smoke can cause cancer. Industrial processes associated with cancer include iron and steel founding; aluminum production and underground mining exposure to radon or uranium.
Disturbing thecircadian rhythm has been identified as a risk factor for some forms of cancer. Other factors like personal characteristics of age, sex, ethnicity and race; family or genetic history of cancer; diet, lifestyle and personal habits such as alcohol consumption and smoking play a vital role in developing cancer. Symptoms of cancer are usually visible after many years of exposure and differ depending on the type of cancer.Someof the common symptoms includefever, weakness and fatigue, weight loss, anxiety, loss of appetite, unexplained muscle or body pain, shortness of breath orpersistent cough,difficulty in swallowing, altered bowel habits,appearance of lumps on the body, night sweats, reddish or scaly patchy skin andabnormal bleeding.
Types of Cancers
Cancer develops when cells multiply and spread in an abnormal and uncontrolled way. There are numerous types of cancer, different sets of causes and treatments. Occupational cancer is an occupational hazards caused by work related exposure to a cancer causing agent called carcinogen. Some cancers associated with occupational exposure includenon-hodgkins disease or bladder canceramong hairdresser, miners, barber painter, etc.;brain and other central nervous system or bone, breast,colon and rectal cancercaused by ionising radiation; pharyngeal, stomach, kidney orlaryngeal cancer,leukaemia,liver, biliary and lung cancer, nasal and sinus cancer, mesothelioma caused on chemical exposure.
Surveillance and Prevention of Occupation Related Cancers
Many occupational cancers can be prevented by use of personal protective gear and education on preventive measures to carcinogen exposure in the workplace. Decreasing or abstaining from smoking and alcohol consumption has also been shown to decrease the risk of work related cancers. Prevention programs and Surveillance System collects data on occupationally related diseases and conditions including cancers. Training modules and prevention campaigns are developed to improve the quantity and quality of information on industrial occupation captured from clinic and hospital records in order to increase the value of public health surveillance and research with the ultimate goal of decreasing the incidence of cancers related to workplace exposures.
Online Course in Occupational Health and Safety Management(OHSM)
James Lind Institute (JLI) provides an online program in – Advanced PG Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety Managementfor better understanding of occupational cancers.
For more information please visit: www.jliedu.com