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Occupational Cancers

Why is it a priority?

Occupational cancer is defined as a disease which is caused wholly or partly by exposure to a cancer causing agent (carcinogen) at work, or by a particular set of circumstances at work. It is among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, accounting for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. According to the World Health Organization, the number of new cases is also expected to rise by about 70% over the next two decades. 

Using chemicals or other hazardous substances at work can put workers’ health at risk and can lead to a number of occupational diseases including cancer. However, there is no available data on the real magnitude of occupational cancer. In addition, there are difficulties in proving causation, and the long latency between occupational exposure and cancer. Therefore, it is important to deepen our understanding of these issues through research and identify effective measures to prevent exposure to risk factors. 


Research Needs

To reduce the incidence of occupational cancers, we propose the following research areas:

  • Estimate the burden of occupational cancer in Singapore;
  • Determine challenges in preventing occupational cancers and measures to overcome these challenges;
  • Identify work activities with high exposure to carcinogens;
  • Identify cost-effective and practical solutions to reduce exposure to carcinogens at the workplace; and
  • Identify improvements to existing occupational health programmes such as medical and hygiene surveillance.