J Korean Med Sci.  2010 Dec;25(Suppl):S94-S98. 10.3346/jkms.2010.25.S.S94.

Occupational Respiratory Cancer in Korea

  • 1Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, KOSHA, Inchoen, Korea. grazzio@kosha.net
  • 2Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Preventive Medicine and Industrial Medical Center, The Catholic University of Korea, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer are representative examples of occupational cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and the incidence of malignant mesothelioma is expected to increase sharply in the near future. Although information about lung carcinogen exposure is limited, it is estimated that the number of workers exposed to carcinogens has declined. The first official case of occupational cancer was malignant mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure in the asbestos textile industry in 1992. Since then, compensation for occupational respiratory cancer has increased. The majority of compensated lung cancer was due to underlying pneumoconiosis. Other main causative agents of occupational lung cancer included asbestos, hexavalent chromium, and crystalline silica. Related jobs included welders, foundry workers, platers, plumbers, and vehicle maintenance workers. Compensated malignant mesotheliomas were associated with asbestos exposure. Epidemiologic studies conducted in Korea have indicated an elevated risk of lung cancer in pneumoconiosis patients, foundry workers, and asbestos textile workers. Occupational respiratory cancer has increased during the last 10 to 20 yr though carcinogen-exposed population has declined in the same period. More efforts to advance the systems for the investigation, prevention and management of occupational respiratory cancer are needed.


Occupational; Lung Cancer; Mesothelioma; Asbestos; Carcinogenic Substances
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