Occupational cancer in Australia
Cancer is a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. The term is used to encompass a range of different diseases such as: adenocarcinoma of lung; melanoma; and hepatocellular carcinoma.
There are a number of well-known sets of circumstances which have demonstrated without a doubt the link between some occupational exposures and some types of cancer.
Because of difficulties in proving causation, and the long lag time between occupational exposure and cancer, very few cancers are reported to compensation authorities.
In addition, the task of reviewing prevention activities is complicated because there are many different substances which do or may cause different types of cancer and these are used in many different occupations.
What this paper has identified is that there is very little co-ordinated information available in Australia on how many people are potentially exposed to known or suspected carcinogens.
To estimate the magnitude of occupational cancer, more indirect methods to determine what proportion of cancers are due to occupational causes, including preventive measures. Ideally, this process will be best informed by a comprehensive national surveillance scheme.