A study looking at the occupations of men and women and the development of mesothelioma and lung cancer (MALCS)

Cancer type:

Lung cancer
Mesothelioma
Non small cell lung cancer
Small cell lung cancer

Status:

Results

Phase:

Other

This study looked at possible links between types of jobs and the risk of getting lung cancer and mesothelioma.  We know from research that most cases of mesothelioma and some cases of lung cancer are caused by people coming into contact with asbestos. Asbestos Open a glossary item is an insulating material that has been used widely in the past, in certain jobs, for example in the building industry. The use of asbestos is now more closely controlled. This study was supported by Cancer Research UK.

More about this trial

The researchers interviewed people with lung cancer and mesothelioma and people without cancer.

The aim of the research was to identify which jobs have a high risk of mesothelioma and lung cancer. It also tried to find out if younger people are still being exposed to unsafe levels of asbestos in their workplace.

The researchers thought the results of this research would also be important for protecting people in developing countries. In some countries, contact with asbestos is not controlled in any way and it is still used in some industries.

Summary of results

The study team confirmed that people who worked in jobs with high levels of exposure to asbestos have an increased lifetime risk of developing either mesothelioma or lung cancer. They also found an increased risk in men and women who lived with an exposed worker before the age of 30.

The researchers collected information from men with mesothelioma or lung cancer, and women with mesothelioma. They also collected information from people without cancer. These people acted as the control group Open a glossary item for this study. Their results were compared to the results of the group who have lung cancer or mesothelioma. These results are based on interviews with 622 people with mesothelioma and 1420 people in the control group.

The study found that

  • Men exposed to asbestos in occupations which are considered at high risk (dockyards, on ships, asbestos factories, power generation and insulation) accounted for 36 out of 100 (36%) of male mesothelioma cases born 1925-40 and 27 out of 100 (27%) of male mesothelioma cases born 1940-65
  • The majority of people with mesothelioma worked in construction related industries
  • 6 out of 100 British men (6%) who were born in the 1940’s and worked as a carpenter for 10 years or more will develop mesothelioma during their lifetime
  • 2 out of 100 British men (2%) who were born in the 1940’s and worked as a plumber, electrician or painter for 10 years or more will develop mesothelioma during their lifetime
  • The risk of developing mesothelioma in people not exposed to asbestos but who lived with an exposed worker before the age of 30 is  about  2 in a 1000. This is double the risk of the general population
  • There was no increased risk in people who reported living with a mile of an asbestos factory, shipyard or power plant
  • Being exposed to asbestos also increases the risk of lung cancer by about the same amount as for mesothelioma. The researchers state that for example 1 in 10 of all British carpenters born in the 1940s may die from an asbestos related cancer

The information in the first bullet point was provided directly by the research team the rest of the information is from the results from the 1st phase of recruitment into the study. They were published in 2009. The study closed in 2013 and the researchers hope there may be published results based on additional information in the future.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor J. Peto

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Health and Safety Executive
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/07/068.

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 219

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Around 1 in 5 people take part in clinical trials

3 phases of trials

Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.

Last reviewed:

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