Systematic screening for occupations and occupational exposures in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2019 Mar;276(3):857-864. doi: 10.1007/s00405-018-05275-7. Epub 2019 Jan 3.


Purpose: The importance of occupational exposures in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) has received little attention.

Methods: In a single-center study, we prospectively characterized occupational exposures in 154 HNSCC cancer patients in a systematic occupational consultation and examined the association between most frequent exposures, HNSCC stage and localization.

Results: Patients occupied a mean of 3.3 different positions during their working life. The prevalence of asbestos, the most frequent exposure (46 patients; 29.9%) was higher than in the French population > 50 years. Other frequent exposures were solvents (n = 26; 16.9%) and silica (n = 19; 12.3%). For 37 patients (24%) a possible link was identified between occupational exposures and HNSCC. Duration of asbestos exposure was significantly higher (p = 0.04) in patients with hypopharyngeal and laryngeal cancer compared to other localizations.

Conclusions: Occupational exposures are frequent in patients with HNSCC and should receive increased attention by physicians.

Keywords: Asbestos; Environmental exposure; Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; Occupational exposure; Professional disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asbestos / analysis
  • Asbestos / toxicity
  • Carcinogens / analysis
  • Carcinogens / toxicity
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Solvents / analysis
  • Solvents / toxicity
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / etiology*


  • Carcinogens
  • Solvents
  • Asbestos