Since 2012, World Lung Cancer Day has been observed on August 1st. This day is meant to raise awareness of lung cancer issues, lung cancer funding and reducing the stigma of lung cancer being believed to be only a “smoker’s disease”. Not only are there many causes of lung cancer, including workplace exposures, but certain workplace exposures, such as breathing in asbestos fibers, can result in a smoker’s lung cancer risk being multiplied – something the worker may never have known.
Railroad workers, in particular, may have significant exposures to carcinogens at work. These can include asbestos, diesel exhaust fumes, ballast dust, silica sand from sanders and chemicals in the railroad shops. Most railroad workers have several different exposures throughout their careers. The interaction of those exposures, along with cigarette smoking if the worker has also smoked, can be worse for a person’s cancer risk than each exposure alone. Rather than silently and stoically hoping for the best, railroad workers should have an honest conversation with their doctors about their workplace exposures.
When a railroad worker’s doctor understands the decades of toxic exposures, the doctor may order regular cancer screenings. Early detection can make a huge difference in a person’s outcome from a cancer diagnosis.
The Lung Cancer Foundation of America and the American Lung Association have many resources regarding the causes of lung cancer, promising tests and treatments for lung cancer, warning signs of lung cancer and more. This World Lung Cancer Day, Doran & Murphy is urging all railroad workers to talk to their doctors about their exposure in time for the upcoming National Lung Cancer Screening Day on November 11, 2023.