A sound knowledge base is required to target resources to reduce workplace exposure to carcinogens. This project aimed to provide an objective estimate of the burden of cancer in Britain due to occupation. This volume presents extensive analyses for all carcinogens and occupational circumstances defined as definite or probable human occupational carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. This article outlines the structure of the supplement - two methodological papers (statistical approach and exposure assessment), eight papers presenting the cancer-specific results grouped by broad anatomical site, a paper giving industry sector results and one discussing work-related cancer-prevention strategies. A brief summary of the methods and an overview of the updated overall results are given in this introductory paper. A general discussion of the overall strengths and limitations of the study is also presented. Overall, 8010 (5.3%) total cancer deaths in Britain and 13,598 cancer registrations were attributable to occupation in 2005 and 2004, respectively. The importance of cancer sites such as mesothelioma, sinonasal, lung, nasopharynx, breast, non-melanoma skin cancer, bladder, oesophagus, soft tissue sarcoma and stomach cancers are highlighted, as are carcinogens such as asbestos, mineral oils, solar radiation, silica, diesel engine exhaust, coal tars and pitches, dioxins, environmental tobacco smoke, radon, tetrachloroethylene, arsenic and strong inorganic mists, as well as occupational circumstances such as shift work and occupation as a painter or welder. The methods developed for this project are being adapted by other countries and extended to include social and economic impact evaluation.