Objective: To investigate the role of occupational exposures in the risk of developing urothelial cancer.
Materials and methods: Occupational histories, obtained using a self-administered questionnaire, for 803 patients with urothelial cancer (first diagnosed 1991-93) were compared with similar information for 2135 matched controls. Relative risks (RRs) were estimated using conditional logistic regression. Comparisons were also made with historical regional employment information available from the 1971 census.
Results: There were many statistically significant positive associations for urothelial cancer risks and ever being employed in specified occupations (with or without statistical adjustment for smoking status in 1991). Smoking-adjusted RRs of > 2.0 were obtained for seven occupations; manufacture of fire lighters/ patent fuels (RR 4.30, 95% confidence interval 0.78-23.79), rodent extermination (3.71, 1.20-11.48), manufacture of dyestuffs (2.61, 0.98-7.00), leather work (2.51, 1.44-4.35), cable manufacturing industry (2.46, 1.20-5.04), textile printing and dyeing (2.32, 0.98-5.45), and sewage works (2.19, 1.16-4.11). Analyses of the occupations followed in 1971 (thus allowing for 20-year latency) indicated an elevated RR for workers in the plastics industry (5.22, 1.57-17.36).
Conclusions: The historical legacy of exposure to aromatic amines in the rubber, cable-making, dyestuffs and other industries remains. An important proportion of patients presenting with urothelial tumours are likely to have had occupational exposure to urothelial carcinogens. A review of occupational exposures in the contemporaneous plastic, textile and leather industries is warranted.