Occupational cancer - types of cancers and their symptoms

Cancers associated with occupational exposure include:


It can take many years for symptoms of cancer to be noticeable and these usually differ depending on the type of cancer. It’s not possible to list all the symptoms that could be caused by every type of cancer, but some common symptoms include:

  • fever
  • general weakness
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • muscle aches/unexplained pain
  • shortness of breath (lung related cancers)
  • persistent cough or hoarseness
  • difficulty in swallowing
  • altered bowel habits
  • lump somewhere on the body
  • night sweats
  • reddish, scaly patchy skin
  • abnormal bleeding.

Compensable cancers

The specific forms of occupational cancers which are currently compensable under the Department for Work and Pensions Industrial Injuries and Disablement Benefit (IIDB) scheme are listed below.

  • Leukaemia or cancer of the bone, breast, testis or thyroid due to exposure to electromagnetic radiation or ionising particles
  • Acute non-lymphatic leukaemia due to exposure to benzene
  • Skin cancer due to exposure to arsenic, arsenic compounds, tar, pitch, bitumen, mineral oil (including paraffin) or soot
  • Sinonasal cancer due to exposure to nickel compounds or to wood, leather and fibre-board dust
  • Lung cancer due to exposure to asbestos or nickel compounds or to work as a tin miner, exposure to bis(chloromethyl) ether, zinc, calcium or strontium chromates or silica exposure.
  • Bladder cancer due to exposure various compounds during chemical manufacturing or processing, including 1-naphthylamine, 2-naphthylamine, benzidine, auramine, magenta, 4-aminobiphenyl, MbOCA, orthotoluidine, 4-chloro-2-methylaniline, and coal tar pitch volatiles produced in aluminium smelting.
  • Angiosarcoma of the liver due to exposure to vinyl chloride monomer.

Peer reviewed by:

Dr Lesley Rushton OBE, Imperial College London