It may be surprising to learn that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women worldwide. In fact, The American Cancer Society reports that it makes up at least 25% of all cancer deaths and, each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
Lung Cancer Awareness Month is observed annually every November and is a time to emphasize better community awareness of this mostly preventable disease that remains a major cause of illness and death, both at home and at work.
Effects in the Workplace
While smoking is by far the most common cause of lung cancer, other risk factors that can cause lung cancer include exposure to asbestos, diesel fuel, nickel, arsenic, soot, or tar. These exposures are common risks in some workplaces, especially for workers in industries such as manufacturing and construction.
High-risk industries can take precautionary measures to help protect employees from leading causes of lung cancer, such as:
- Limit staff exposure to harmful carcinogens
- Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks or respirators to those who may be at risk for exposure to airborne irritants
- Offer lung health monitoring programs that help identify symptoms at an early stage
- Educate workers concerning the risks of lung disease
- Hire a specially trained health and safety expert to investigate the work environment for risks for occupational lung diseases
Many potential causes of lung cancer can be found in the workplace, but they are easy to control with the proper measures, creating safer and healthier working conditions for all employees.