5 Common Occupational Cancers - Missouri Workers Compensation

by James M. Hoffmann on Mar. 30, 2017

Employment Workers' Compensation Accident & Injury Employment  Occupational Safety & Health 

Summary: Cancer is possibly the most dreaded disease, and its mere mention evokes emotions of fear and anxiety. Among the many causes of cancer, one is occupational exposure. Our St. Louis work injury lawyer will discuss the five most common types of occupational cancers.


Mesothelioma is definitely the most notorious and dreaded of all occupational cancers. It often develops as a result of breathing asbestos fibers for a prolonged period. Contact with asbestos fibers causes tumors to develop in the lining of stomach, lungs and other internal organs. Workers who are employed in ships, structures and old buildings containing asbestos are at risk. According to the CDC, a large number of cases of fatal occupational cancers do not appear until about 40 years of on-the-job exposure. A young worker exposed to asbestos may not come to know of the illness until he/she reaches middle or old age, and until then it might become difficult for him to convince the employer that the illness is indeed work related.

Lung cancer

Some workers develop certain types of lung cancers after exposure to harmful substances on the job. Even those who have never smoked in their entire life may develop a lung malignancy. Some types of workers are at a greater risk of developing occupational lung cancer, these workers are involved in:

  • Jobs involving diesel engine exhaust and diesel fueling

  • Coal gasification

  • Working with ionizing radiation or radon

  • Steel and iron foundry work

  • Exposure to coal pitch and coal tar

Skin cancer

Some outdoor workers spend a lot of time exposed to the sun. Despite taking proper precautions, they may be at risk of developing skin cancer. Some types of skin cancer are harmless and spread slowly. However, some others, such as malignant melanoma can rapidly spread to vital organs and bones.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

This is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. The cells in the blood stream become abnormal and start growing out of control. The growth is triggered and worsened by exposure to insecticides and solvents. Some of the professions that are at high risk of lymphoma are:

  • Hairdressing

  • Painting

  • Photographic developing

  • Agriculture

Contaminants such as formaldehyde and trichloroethylene can have an adverse effect on the lymphatic system. Farm workers and painters who are not protected from the irritants can develop lymphatic cancer.

Radiation-related cancers

Workers with long term exposure to radiation in the workplace such as X-ray technicians can develop radiation relate cancers. Even X-ray scanners at public buildings and airports can lead to radiation-related cancers if safety best practices and shields are not used. High levels of ionizing radiation increases the risk of breast cancer, bone cancer and colon cancer. Exposure to electromagnetic radiation in the workplace can cause life threatening cancers such as thyroid cancers and leukemia.

Surprisingly, nearly 4 percent of all cancer related fatalities in the U.S. are caused by occupational exposure to harmful substances. If you have developed an illness due to occupational exposure, you may be able to claim workers compensation benefits. If you find any difficulty in getting the rightful benefits, you should contact an experienced St. Louis workers compensation lawyer.

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