Work-Related Cancer

Work-related cancer is any cancer that results from exposure to cancer-causing agents* at work.

* also known as carcinogens

Most work-related cancers do not appear until years after exposure to the carcinogen.

Even if your exposure was many years ago, your cancer may still be work-related.

It is estimated that up to 1 in 5 cancers are work-related.

The total number of cancers caused by work is not known, partly because they are not always reported.

Some types of cancer are more likely to be caused by work than others.

Work-related cancer is more common in men than women.

Why Report My Cancer?

If your exposures are identified as causing cancer, steps may be taken to prevent your co-workers and others from being exposed, preventing future cancer cases.

You may be eligible for benefits from WSIB such as lost earnings from work, money to help pay for your medical costs and other financial compensation.

It draws attention to this important topic and provides information for future research.

Determine if Your Cancer is Caused by Your Work

 Identify the specific diagnosis of the primary cancer.

 Review the scientific literature to identify known cancer causing agents.

 Review your work history and workplace exposures to identify carcinogens that you were exposed to.

 Assess the exposures to see if they are specific to your cancer and are in a quantity and a timeframe that would be consistent with contributing to the development of your cancer.

If you think your cancer is work-related…

Ask your doctor if they know of a link between your cancer and your work.
If they do, ask them to complete a WSIB Form 8 to initiate a claim.

Ask your worker or union health and safety or WSIB representative for help.

Contact the WSIB directly.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
Toll Free: 1-800-387-0750

Contact the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW).
Occupational health staff (physicians, nurses, hygienists) can assist with information about workrelated cancers and the exposures associated with them. An individual assessment can be arranged if appropriate. Your doctor can also contact OHCOW for assistance. There is no charge for OHCOW services and workers can contact the clinic directly.

Common Types of Work-Related Cancer and Their Causes

Lung cancer, mesothelioma, and bladder cancer are the most common work-related cancers.

Cancer Site(s)

Work-related Exposure**


Arsenic, Asbestos, Beryllium, Bis(chloromethyl) ether, Cadmium, Chromium (VI), Coal, Coal-tar pitch, Diesel exhaust, Nickel, Plutonium Radon, Radiation* (X-ray & Gamma), Silica dust, Soot, Tobacco smoking (TS), Acheson process. Painting, Coke production, Hematite mining, Rubber or Aluminum production, Iron and steel founding


Asbestos, Erionite, Fluoro-edenite, Painting


Arsenic, Benzidine, Radiation*, TS, 4-Aminobiphenyl, 2-Naphthylamine, O-Toluidine. Painting. Aluminum, Auramine, Magenta or Rubber production.


Trichloroethylene, Radiation*

Leukemia and/or Lymphoma

Benzene, Formaldehyde, Radiation*, Lindane. Thorium232, Fission products, Rubber production, 1,3Butadiene


Formaldehyde, Wood dust


Nickel, Wood dust, Leather dust, Radium 226, 228


Radiation*, Rubber production


Asbestos, acid mists


Vinyl chloride, Plutonium, Thorium 232, 1,2-Dichloropropane

Blood and Lymph





Radiation. Working at night (probable)

Skin (non-melanoma)

Solar radiation, Radiation*Mineral oils, PAHs, Arsenic, Azathioprine Coaltar, Soot, Shale oils

Skin (melanoma)

Solar radiation, Polychlorinated biphenyls

All cancer sites


** This is not a complete list. See more information below.

Other Cancer Causing Exposures

The list provided above focuses on occupational exposures which are accepted by international experts as causing cancer in humans.

Some occupations, such as firefighting and painting have higher rates of cancer.

There are also non-occupational exposures that can cause these cancers as well.

Both occupational and non-occupational causes may contribute to a cancer at the same time.

There are other exposures which are classified as probable or possible causes of cancer which may have contributed to your cancer.

*  *   *

For a full list of these exposures please visit the International Agency for Research on Cancer website:


Human Cancer: Known Causes and Prevention by Organ Site

Infographic of Human Cancer: Known Causes and Prevention by Organ Site

Source:  International Agency for Research of Cancer (IARC) | World Health Organization

Is Your Cancer Work-Related?
Cover image of brochure entitled "Is Your Cancer Work-Related"