Occupational bladder cancer: A cross section survey of previous employments, tasks and exposures matched to cancer phenotypes

Bladder Cancer

PLoS One. 2020 Oct 21;15(10):e0239338. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0239338. eCollection 2020.


OBJECTIVES: Up to 10% of Bladder Cancers may arise following occupational exposure to carcinogens. We hypothesised that different cancer phenotypes reflected different patterns of occupational exposure.

METHODS: Consecutive participants, with bladder cancer, self-completed a structured questionnaire detailing employment, tasks, exposures, smoking, lifestyle and family history. Our primary outcome was association between cancer phenotype and occupational details.

RESULTS: We collected questionnaires from 536 patients, of whom 454 (85%) participants (352 men and 102 women) were included. Women were less likely to be smokers (68% vs. 81% Chi sq. p<0.001), but more likely than men to inhale environmental tobacco smoke at home (82% vs. 74% p = 0.08) and use hair dye (56% vs. 3%, p<0.001). Contact with potential carcinogens occurred in 282 (62%) participants (mean 3.1 per worker (range 0-14)). High-grade cancer was more common than low-grade disease in workers from the steel, foundry, metal, engineering and transport industries (p<0.05), and in workers exposed to crack detection dyes, chromium, coal/oil/gas by-products, diesel fumes/fuel/aircraft fuel and solvents (such as trichloroethylene). Higher staged cancers were frequent in workers exposed to Chromium, coal products and diesel exhaust fumes/fuel (p<0.05). Various workers (e.g. exposed to diesel fuels or fumes (Cox, HR 1.97 (95% CI 1.31-2.98) p = 0.001), employed in a garage (HR 2.19 (95% CI 1.31-3.63) p = 0.001), undertaking plumbing/gas fitting/ventilation (HR 2.15 (95% CI 1.15-4.01) p = 0.017), undertaking welding (HR 1.85 (95% CI 1.24-2.77) p = 0.003) and exposed to welding materials (HR 1.92 (95% CI 1.27-2.91) p = 0.002)) were more likely to have disease progression and receive radical treatment than others. Fewer than expected deaths were seen in healthcare workers (HR 0.17 (95% CI 0.04-0.70) p = 0.014).

CONCLUSIONS: We identified multiple occupational tasks and contacts associated with bladder cancer. There were some associations with phenotype, although our study design precludes robust assessment.