The Difficulty of Verifying Cancer as a Workplace Outcome

Arizona Injury Law Group

There is nothing more devastating than to go in for an annual health checkup and come out of it with a diagnosis of cancer, even more so if it is terminal cancer. There can be many reasons for how you acquired cancer, such as family history, an overload of stress due to extremely disastrous life events (divorce, family member sudden death, etc.), or related to exposure to chemicals at work. Even more devastating is that cancers can occur years after a person has left the job.

Occupations known to cause cancers at a higher rate than other jobs are:

  • Firefighters
  • Police Officers
  • Warfare
  • Auto Repair
  • Metal Working Shops
  • Rubber factories
  • Radiology
  • Hair & Nail Salons

Annual Health Checkup

Any job where workers come into daily contact with chemicals of any sort is dangerous.

While federal regulations have helped to cut back on such exposures, instances of cancer do still occur. Firefighters are those most likely to encounter unexpected chemicals they may not even be aware of in an ongoing fire, until too late.

Negative stress – the prolonged fight or flight syndrome found in hostile work environments – produces physical changes that, over time, cause lung, colon, rectal, and abdominal cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Read more about the dangers of continued stress situations from the American Psychological Association (APA) here.


Get a full physical examination to determine your current health status. Get one every year, thereafter. This is very important whenever you will be involved in susceptible situations where chemicals may be involved, or if, like police officers, you are in daily stressful and dangerous situations. Firefighters also must stay on top of having their regular health examinations to determine the status of their lungs and other health issues that can arise. Secretaries and other office personnel should also do the same, especially if offices are close to the areas where chemicals are used and/or stored.


Keep your own records of any physical changes as documented by your doctor, along with a log about circumstances in the workplace that might have led to these changes. Be aware that if these changes are significant, you must file a claim with your employer so you can get medical help quickly to reduce and eliminate these physical changes, so they do not lead to something worse, like terminal cancer. In Arizona, you have up to a year to file your claim. File your claim sooner rather than later.


The ADA is a law (1990) that protects people with disabilities in several ways. When it comes to a diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the ADA can support a worker who wishes to remain in the workplace during cancer treatment, as well as after the treatments have ended, so long as they are able to do the job.

In 2009, the ADA was further expanded and defined to include the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 that referred to disabilities occurring in the mind and body related to immune systems, bowel and bladder cancers, digestive functions, respiratory and circulatory systems, reproductive systems, and more. Job discrimination of workers who fall under these disability categories can make it very difficult for people to keep their jobs or get hired on in other jobs. In some cases, denial of benefits to getting treatment for cancer is denied, as some employers refuse to accept that the onset of cancer in a worker is due to the workplace environment and activities.

If you think you have been discriminated against because of your health status, even while still able to do your job as before your diagnosis of cancer, give us a call for a consultation. We can help you. (480) 535-3482.

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