The UK union GMB is to launch an awareness campaign on the link between work in certain industries and bladder cancer.
The decision at the union’s annual Congress commits it to target a problem it says particularly affects workers in the male-dominated chemical dye and rubber industries. However, the union said the chemicals linked to bladder cancer also occur “in hair dyes, paints, fungicides, cigarette smoke, plastics, pollutant emissions from industrial installations, and metal and motor vehicle exhausts, which can affect both male and females.”
GMB says there are an estimated 100,000 men and women living with bladder cancer in the UK and approximately 15,000 new cases are diagnosed annually, making it the fifth most common cancer overall.
GMB London’s regional secretary, Warren Kenny, said: “Occupational bladder claims thousands of lives per year, and it is likely that official statistics are underestimated as there are many causes of the cancer, meaning the link to work is often not made. Due to the long latency before symptoms manifest, it is often perceived to be an older person’s condition. As such there has been little campaigning for preventative approaches and such an approach is long overdue.”
Kenny said the union would work with both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Fight Bladder Cancer campaign to “provide a much needed focus on this overlooked cancer and help to provide access to decision-makers in industry and government who can help address the shortage of research funding and poor prioritisation of bladder cancer.”