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Gastric and rectal cancers in workers exposed to asbestos: a case series 2020.06.26
Author : OSHRI

Gastric and rectal cancers in workers exposed to asbestos:

a case series

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Background: The Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute (OSHRI) of the Korea had not recognized gastrointestinal cancer as work-related disease during their evaluation. However, in 2018 OSHRI recognized gastric and rectal cancers as work-related disease in asbestos-exposed workers. We present 2 such cases along supportive evidence of causation.
Case presentation: Patient A: A 57-year-old man had worked for about 40 years since 1978 as an oxygen cutter at workplaces that dismantle ships, buildings, boilers, and thermal power plants. In November 2016, endoscopy and biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of advanced gastric cancer, for which he underwent subtotal gastrectomy and chemotherapy; however, he later died of the cancer. Patient B: A 71-year-old man had worked in shipbuilding and repair workplaces for approximately 49 years, being employed in pipe laying, asbestos insulation installation, grinding, and other ship repair work. In 2003, he was diagnosed of rectal cancer by abdominal computed tomography. He accordingly underwent surgical removal of the cancer. Based on the occupational history of the 2 patients and our review of the relevant literature addressing the occupational environment, we concluded that both patients had continuous exposure to high levels of asbestos while performing their jobs for 40 and 49 years, respectively.
Conclusion: Both patients had a history of smoking and drinking (non-occupational personal risk factors). However, the possibility of an increased risk of gastric and rectal cancers from asbestos exposure cannot be excluded. Therefore, we considered that occupational exposure to asbestos had contributed to the cancer diagnosis in these cases. Workers exposed to asbestos should be made aware of the possibility of gastric or rectal cancer, and should undergo monitoring and medical examinations. Appropriate compensation for gastric and rectal cancers that occur in workers exposed to asbestos are anticipated in future.
Gastrointestinal cancer; Gastric cancer; Rectal cancer; Asbestos; Work-relatedness