Predicted cancer diagnosis rise displays need for prevention work

A predicted sharp increase in cancer cases demonstrates that more work is needed on preventative measures, according to the world’s largest professional health and safety organisation.

4 February 2015

Recent research by charity Cancer Research UK has revealed that one in two people will develop cancer during their lives. The figures were revealed today – Wednesday 4 February – to coincide with World Cancer Day.

Cancer Research UK has argued that the figure shows the need to strengthen cancer services to cope with demand.

Experts also say that while survival rates from the disease have risen – to the extent that about half of patients survive for ten years or more – the figures show more must be done to prevent people from contracting it in the first place.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) agrees with this view and is confident its campaign to cut cancer caused in the workplace and similar drives can see the number of new cases fall.

IOSH launched No Time to Lose to seek a reduction in occupational cancer, focusing on five key causes – silica dust, diesel engine exhaust emissions, solar radiation, asbestos and shift work.

Figures show that nearly 14,000 new cases of cancer caused by exposure to these carcinogens in the workplace are registered each year, while around 8,000 people die every year because of occupational cancer.

Phil Bates, Senior Policy and Technical Adviser for IOSH, said: “The figures revealed by Cancer Research UK are alarming but not surprising. Cancer has a dreadful impact on people who are diagnosed and their families.

“While treatments are improving, what the figures do highlight is that we must look at how to prevent people from getting cancer. One common way in which people contract the disease is through workplace exposure. That is why we are running our No Time to Lose campaign.”

Cancer Research UK says the new figure is the most accurate to date. It is far higher than the previous figure of one in three, which was calculated differently.

The charity has highlighted that while people’s lifestyle is the major cause of cancer, work-related activities are the fifth most avoidable cause of the disease.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has also called for more to be done about occupational cancer, choosing World Cancer Day to reveal a report into it.

In the report, the organisation gives recommendations for “filling gaps in our present knowledge” about work-related cancer.

IOSH has already had huge support from 70 organisations – both major national firms and smaller enterprises – while about 30 other companies have also formally signed a pledge outlining their commitment to both the campaign and managing harmful exposures.

Mr Bates added: “We want companies to get involved and take action to prevent staff from getting the disease while working for them.”

Contact Tim Walsh, IOSH Media Manager
+44 (0)116 257 3252
+44 (0)797 660 4715