Bladder Cancer Compensation Claims

Bladder Cancer and Occupational Risk

The COSHH (The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations are designed to protect workers from being exposed to hazardous substances during the course of their work.

Bladder Cancer caused by working environment - industrial disease claims

If your employer breaches the COSHH regulations and you suffer because of their negligence you have the right to make a claim for compensation. If you have suffered harm caused by exposure to hazardous substances at work, you should seek legal advice to find out where you stand in relation to compensation.

The definition of "harm" is wide and encompasses many conditions including skin irritation, asthma dermatitis and even cancer

For example bladder cancer has been linked to various types of industrial work for many years.

Key Information:

Bladder Cancer - What is it?

Bladder cancer like all cancer is an abnormality of a cell which results in the uncontrollable division of cells. These cells then link to become a mass (tumour). Although the tumour can develop in one area such as the bladder the cells of the mass can break away and enter other parts of the body, causing the spread of the cancer, this process is known as metastasis.

Nine out of ten cases of bladder cancer in the UK are Transitional Cell bladder cancer (TCC), also known as urothelial cancer which develops from the cells of the bladder lining. It is the contact with the waste products in the urine that can cause these cells to become cancerous. TCC can take many forms including:

  • superficial bladder cancer - contained within the lining of the bladder
  • papillary bladder cancer - small growths growing out of the bladder lining
  • "carcinoma in situ" - flat cells with abnormal appearance that can grow quickly
  • T1 tumours - the cells have grown from the lining into the lamina propria layer (layer underneath)

TCC can become invasive whereby it grows into the muscle layer and beyond, spreading to other parts of the body. The cancer is then staged by how far it has spread from the lining of the bladder.

Two other types of bladder cancer include Squamous Cell (forms 8% of all cases) and Adenocarcinoma of the bladder (forms 1 to 2% of all bladder cancer cases in the UK and are very rare).

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

The most common symptom that occurs in over 80% of bladder cancer cases is painless and intermittent blood in the urine, although this is not a symptom just relating to bladder cancer. Other symptoms include an increased frequency and urgency on passing urine and pain on passing urine.

The Health and Safety Executive issued a press release in 2003 (E016:03-5 u 2003) which acknowledged that employees exposed to PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) run an increased risk of certain types of cancer including bladder cancer.

Bladder Cancer Treatment

The treatment varies for the different types of bladder cancer and would be more invasive depending on the type and stage at which the cancer is diagnosed. This would be discussed with your doctor following consultation but would usually include intravesical therapy, either with chemotherapy or immunotherapy which can have a significant effect on reducing the rate of the cancer progressing to the invasive carcinoma stage.

Who is at risk of Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer is more than twice as likely to effect men than women and 8 in 10 cases appear in those over the age of 65. Bladder cancer can take 25 years to develop and is rare in those under the age of 40. In the UK it is estimated that approximately 7% of bladder cancer cases are in men and 2% in women are linked to occupational exposures. (D M Parkin, British Journal of Cancer - December 2011)

Occupations that can be associated to Bladder Cancer

  • Petrochemical Industry
  • Painters and decorators
  • Manufacture of rubber
  • Printing Industry (in particular those working with carbon black)
  • Dyestuff Industry
  • Mechanics
  • Manufacture of Leather products
  • Truck drivers
  • Hairdressers
  • Machine setters and operators, metal casters

This list is not by any means exhaustive.

Bladder Cancer's link to aromatic amines was reported in case law in the 1950's. Aromatic amines are one of many carcinogens (cancer causing substances) that are widely used in the manufacture of dyes for textiles, paints, paper, hair dyes, pesticides and antioxidants in the rubber industry.

The petrochemical industry has also been proven as a risk. A petrochemical is described as any substance derived from petroleum or natural gas. They are pervasive in modern industry and those exposed could potentially include the entire workforce. Petroleum can be separated into many components with the major petrochemicals being: Acetylene, benzene, ethane, ethylene, methane, propane and hydrogen.

Petrochemicals are made up of hydrocarbons, these hydrocarbons are used in many industries such as aviation, automotive and plastic industries. Two such petrochemical cohorts are Beta-napthylamine (BNA) and Benzadine. Both are known bladder carcinogens. BNA was previously used in the manufacture of polyethylene pipe. This chemical was a contaminant in the additive in the resin used in the manufacture of the pipe and when the resin was heated to a high temperature the chemical was released. Both of the above carcinogens were banned in the UK by the Carcinogenic Substances Act 1967, the manufacture of both in the UK had however ceased many years before this.

A further group of chemicals that have been associated to bladder cancer are PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). These are used in industries involving combustion processes, such as coke production, metal founders and smelting, motor and engine exhausts and roofing and paving.

In 1953 bladder cancer became listed as a "prescribed" industrial disease. A "prescribed" disease is a disease that is recognised by the government as being linked to a particular occupation or occupations.

The Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit provides assistance to an employed earner with a prescribed disease.

Work Related Bladder Cancer

If you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer and think that this is linked to your work you may be entitled to claim benefit from your local social security. Contact them for a claim form for the prescribed disease C23 (Bladder Cancer). The general claim form you will require is BI100B. You will have to meet specific criteria to be eligible.

You should also seek legal advice from a specialist solicitor with experience of acting for victims of occupational cancer. For further information call our friendly Helpline Team on 0808 129 3320 or send us an email using our online enquiry form.

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Gavin Evans | Partner &  Head of Industrial Disease | Simpson Millar LLP

Gavin Evans
Partner, Head of Industrial Disease

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