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NOCCA New: New wave of joint Nordic studies on work and cancer

The Nordic cooperation project NOCCA is the largest and in many aspects qualitatively, the most unique research study ever done on occupation and cancer incidence. NOCCA New will update and expand previously estimated cancer risks and carry out new analyses on cancer and occupational exposure in the modern work life

NOCCA New is a continuation of the Nordic Occupational Cancer study (NOCCA). NOCCA followed the entire working population, aged 30-64 at the time of the population censuses in 1960, 1970, 1980/1981 and/or 1990, in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden for a maximum of 45 years, until 2005. The study data consists of 2.8 million cancer incidences among 15 million people.

The aim of NOCCA was to estimate occupation-specific cancer incidence and cancer risk. Its first publication was published in 2009 and the included risk of 84 types of cancer among 54 occupational groups. So far, NOCCA has resulted in over 50 scientific articles and a Nordic Job Exposure Matrix (NOCCA-JEM) with quantitative estimates of more than 20 harmful or potentially harmful work-related exposures in over 300 occupations.

Aims to improve and expand previous studies on occupational cancer

NOCCA New aims to update, improve and expand previous NOCCA studies. Estimations of occupation-specific cancer risks will be updated and expanded to additional types of cancer, and occupational variation in cancer survival and the proportions of cancers attributed to work exposures will be estimated.

The existing NOCCA data will be expanded to include industry and additional confounders of cancer risk, such as education and lifestyle factors. In addition, the follow- up for cancer incidence will be extended until 2017 or beyond. Such an addition would essentially increase the proportion of the youngest birth cohorts and the number of persons with occupational information covering their entire work career.

Capturing modern exposure patterns

Furthermore, new work safety regulations and new features in the work-life, such as increased sedentary work, may have altered the level of exposure. Thus, NOCCA New will better capture the modern occupational exposure patterns and the changes in cancer risks due to interventions at the workplace.

Data from the Nordic countries are well suited for research on occupational cancer. The data on occupation and cancer is of high quality, it covers several decades, and the high proportion of economically active women enables accurate risk estimations for both genders. By using a pooled Nordic database, the number of cancer incidents is large enough to study rare types of cancers and cancer risks in smaller occupational groups. Thus, as well as generating new knowledge on occupation and cancer risk, the results from this study will have importance in confirmation of findings from smaller studies.

The project is led by the Finnish Cancer registry.

Project leader: Ingrid Sivesind Mehlum