Why 10 Percent of Bladder Cancer Cases are Considered ‘Occupational’

Public Health

Why 10 Percent of Bladder Cancer Cases are Considered ‘Occupational’

"Nearly 10 percent of all bladder cancer cases are considered “occupational” and may result due to long-term exposure to harmful substances like diesel fumes, plant fumes, coal, oil, and gas products."

Firefighters are at high risk for bladder cancer because of their occupational exposure to a variety of hazards, according to new research out of Lyon, France.

Evidence suggests that firefighters who inhale toxic carcinogens over time may be considered at risk for what is known as “occupational” bladder cancer or other diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, say researchers.

The findings were based on a recent study conducted by the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) International Agency for Research on Cancer linking occupational exposure as a firefighter to the risk of bladder cancer.

Nearly 10 percent of all bladder cancer cases are considered “occupational” and may result due to long-term exposure to harmful substances like diesel fumes, plant fumes, coal, oil, and gas products, write Dr. Oliver Reed and others.

Some professions may also require the use of personal protective equipment to prevent harmful exposure.   

During a recent video series on her YouTube channel entitled “Bladder Cancer 101,” Dr. Rena Malik, a urologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, explained how regular exposure to substances such as industrial chemicals and dyes at a worksite can heighten the risk of getting bladder cancer, though prolonged exposure of course doesn’t guarantee that outcome.

A recent episode of Bladder Cancer Matters — the official podcast of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network — explored the correlation between bladder cancer rates and exposure to environmental chemicals.

The American Cancer Society has identified some preventive measures to mitigate the potential risk of occupational bladder cancer. They include:

  • Follow good workplace safety practices
  • Limit exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace
  • Wear protective clothing and respirators as a precautionary measure to limit exposure 

Men are three times more likely to develop bladder cancer than women, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The disease, however, is more lethal to women as it is often detected later.

The beginning stages of bladder cancer can be challenging to recognize, according to Yale Medicine, but some early warning signs include blood in the urine and pain during urination.

Early detection is critical — early diagnosis reduces bladder cancer mortality rates, decreases the economic burden, and can improve a person's quality of life. However, bladder cancer reoccurs after successful treatment between 31 to 78 percent of the time, writes the IARC.

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