Priority issues in occupational cancer research: Ontario stakeholder perspectives

Hohenadel K, Pichora E, Marrett L, Bukvic D, Brown J, Harris SA, Demers PA, Blair A. Priority issues in occupational cancer research: Ontario stakeholder perspectives. Chronic Diseases and Injuries in Canada, 2011; 31(4):147-151

INTRODUCTION: Workers are potentially exposed to known and suspected carcinogens in the workplace, many of which have not been fully evaluated. Despite persistent need, research on occupational cancer appears to have declined in recent decades. The formation of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) is an effort to counter this downward trend in Ontario. The OCRC conducted a survey of the broad stakeholder community to learn about priority issues on occupational cancer research.

METHODS: The OCRC received 177 responses to its survey from academic, health care, policy, industry, and labour-affiliated stakeholders. Responses were analyzed based on workplace exposures, at-risk occupations and cancers by organ system, stratified by respondents’ occupational role.

RESULTS: Priority issues identified included workplace exposures such as chemicals, respirable dusts and fibres (e.g. asbestos), radiation (e.g. electromagnetic fields), pesticides, and shift work; and occupations such as miners, construction workers, and health care workers. Insufficient funding and a lack of exposure data were identified as the central barriers to conducting occupational cancer research.

DISCUSSION: The results of this survey underscore the great need for occupational cancer research in Ontario and beyond. They will be very useful as the OCRC develops its research agenda.