Burden of non-melanoma skin cancer attributable to occupational sun exposure in Canada

  • Cheryl E. PetersEmail author
  • J. Kim
  • C. Song
  • E. Heer
  • V. H. Arrandale
  • M. Pahwa
  • F. Labrèche
  • C. B. McLeod
  • H. W. Davies
  • C. B. Ge
  • P. A. Demers
Original Article



Outdoor workers are exposed daily to solar ultraviolet radiation, an important contributor in the development of non-melanoma skin cancer. This study aimed to quantify the health burden of non-melanoma skin cancers among outdoor workers in Canada.


Solar ultraviolet radiation exposure and estimates of exposure levels were applied to employment information from Canada census data to determine the exposed population in the risk exposure period (1961–2001). Risk estimates were drawn from meta-analyses selected based on quality and relevance to the current study. Population-attributable fractions were calculated using Levin’s equation and attributable cases were estimated based on incidence data reported by the Canadian Cancer Society.


In 2011, 6.31% (4556 cases) of non-melanoma skin cancer cases were estimated to be attributable to occupational exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation. The majority of these cases occurred in men in the agriculture or construction industries.


These estimates of the burden of non-melanoma skin cancer in Canada identify the need for further prevention efforts, particularly in agriculture and construction. Introducing workplace sun safety measures could be an important area for policy development.


Occupational health Skin cancer Non-melanoma Solar radiation Burden 



Basal cell carcinoma


Confidence interval


Job exposure matrix


Non-melanoma skin cancer


Odds ratio


Population attributable fraction


Proportion of workers exposed


Risk exposure period


Relative risk


Squamous cell carcinoma


Ultraviolet radiation



The Burden of Occupational Cancer Research presented in this report was funded by the Canadian Cancer Society Multi-Sector Team Grant in Prevention Research (#701285). Occupational carcinogen exposure estimates were provided by CAREX Canada, which is funded by the Canadian Partnership against Cancer.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention ResearchCancerControl Alberta, Alberta Health ServicesCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Cumming School of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.CAREX Canada, Simon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Occupational Cancer Research Centre, Cancer Care OntarioTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational HealthMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  6. 6.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  7. 7.Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travailMontrealCanada
  8. 8.School of Population and Public HealthUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  9. 9.Institute for Risk Assessment SciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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