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You’ve probably heard of bladder cancer - it is the 4th most common form of cancer in men in the world. It usually begins with urothelial cells inside the lining of the bladder mutating to form a cancerous tumour. Unfortunately, the five-year survival rate for bladder cancer in Australia is about 55%. What you may not know is that about 10% of bladder cancers are the result of prolonged occupational exposure to carcinogenic (cancer causing) substances in the workplace.

Can workplace exposure to toxins cause bladder cancer?

It is widely accepted that smoking is the leading cause of bladder cancer accounting for about half of diagnoses being attributed to a history of smoking. While smoking rates have continued to decline, since the mid-2000s, there has been a steady rise in the number of diagnosed bladder cancer cases in Australia, suggesting new and different causes are driving the increased numbers: workplace exposure to dangreous carcinogens. 

What industries are most at risk of occupational bldder cancer?

Some of the carcinogens that are linked to the development of bladder cancer are:

  • leather dust, produced when working on tanned leather products
  • diesel exhaust, produced when working with diesel powered vehicles or machinery
  • coal tars and pitches, used primarily in road work and maintenance
  • ionizing radiation, produced by x-ray machines
  • aromatic amines, found in diesel exhaust fumes, hair dyes, rubber products, oil refining and burning wood chips  

These chemicals are most often found in industries such as:

  • dye and pigment manufacturing
  • painting and paint production
  • rubber manufacturing and processing industries
  • Industries working with pesticides such as farming
  • road paving/construction
  • tar and pitch production
  • firefighting
  • foundry workers
  • diesel mechanics
  • printing
  • cosmetics and pharmaceuticals
  • leather working
  • radiography

How long does it take from workplace exposure to developing bladder cancer?

Generally, there is a long delay between exposure to carcinogenic substances such as paints or dyes and the development of occupational bladder cancer, taking in general at least 15-20 years. This can make diagnosing the cause of the cancer difficult in situations where the patient has a long and varied work history. If you have an exposure from several decades ago, it may still have contributed to your diagnosis.

Can I claim compensation for occupational bladder cancer? 

It's best to seek legal advice to find out if you are eligible to claim compensation for occupational bladder cancer and what options are available to you. It’s important to let your doctor know your work history when you’re diagnosed, as it could be a contributing factor. 

The type of compensation you may be entitled to will depend on the period of your employment, and exposure to carcinogenic substances. It may include weekly payments, or a lump sum for medical expenses.  

Learn more about our work in workplace disease compensation

Our dedicated workplace disease lawyers have significant experience in helping clients get compensation for occupational diseases caused by asbestos, silicadust exposure and more. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.

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