Saf Health Work.  2018 Jun;9(2):133-139. 10.1016/

Priority Setting for Occupational Cancer Prevention

  • 1Carleton University, 5411 Herzberg Laboratories, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
  • 2CAREX Canada, Simon Fraser University, Harbour Centre Campus, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
  • 3Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Universiteit Utrecht, Nieuw Gildestein, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • 4School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
  • 5Occupational Cancer Research Centre, Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto, ON, Canada.
  • 6Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Selecting priority occupational carcinogens is important for cancer prevention efforts; however, standardized selection methods are not available. The objective of this paper was to describe the methods used by CAREX Canada in 2015 to establish priorities for preventing occupational cancer, with a focus on exposure estimation and descriptive profiles.
Four criteria were used in an expert assessment process to guide carcinogen prioritization: (1) the likelihood of presence and/or use in Canadian workplaces; (2) toxicity of the substance (strength of evidence for carcinogenicity and other health effects); (3) feasibility of producing a carcinogen profile and/or an occupational estimate; and (4) special interest from the public/scientific community. Carcinogens were ranked as high, medium or low priority based on specific conditions regarding these criteria, and stakeholder input was incorporated. Priorities were set separately for the creation of new carcinogen profiles and for new occupational exposure estimates.
Overall, 246 agents were reviewed for inclusion in the occupational priorities list. For carcinogen profile generation, 103 were prioritized (11 high, 33 medium, and 59 low priority), and 36 carcinogens were deemed priorities for occupational exposure estimation (13 high, 17 medium, and 6 low priority).
Prioritizing and ranking occupational carcinogens is required for a variety of purpose
s, including research, resource allocation at different jurisdictional levels, calculations of occupational cancer burden, and planning of CAREX-type projects in different countries. This paper outlines how this process was achieved in Canada; this may provide a model for other countries and jurisdictions as a part of occupational cancer prevention efforts.


cancer prevention; carcinogen exposure; occupational health
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