Recognizing Workplace Exposures During Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November 17, 2021

Did you know lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer, both in the United States and worldwide? Several nonprofit organizations and research firms are taking steps to enhance the public’s understanding of this prevalent disease during November’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the American Association for Cancer Research, lung cancer is responsible for more fatalities than colorectal cancer, breast cancer and pancreatic cancer combined. In fact, The American Cancer Society estimates nearly 132,000 men and women have died from lung cancer this year.

Lung Cancer Risks at Work
While smoking tobacco is the most common cause of lung cancer, work-related exposure to carcinogens is also a leading cause of lung cancer. The World Health Organization recently reported that one in ten lung cancer deaths is caused by risk factors at work. These factors can include exposure to occupational carcinogens such as asbestos, soot, tar, radon, welding fumes and arsenic.

Symptoms of lung cancer may not be apparent right away and can include a persisting cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, hoarseness, weight loss, bone pain and headaches, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Businesses in high-risk industries can take steps to help prevent lung cancer risks for their workers:

  • Be aware of hazards on the job, such as the presence of asbestos or other toxins
  • Require proper usage of masks and/or respirators to prevent inhalation or ingestion
  • Consider methods to limit exposures, such as ventilation systems to remove air particles
  • Encourage a healthy and smoke-free workplace, as the combination of exposure to carcinogens and smoking can greatly increase the risk of lung cancer

Learn More
As part of the annual recognition, the American Lung Association offers a barometer fact sheet and other tools and resources to learn and share information about lung cancer research and prevention.