Steelworkers union to respond to NCI lung cancer findings

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The United Steelworkers (USW) union has called for an urgent strategy meeting to discuss occupational lung cancer in response to the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) findings that low dose chest CT screening can reduce lung cancer mortality by 20 percent.

Lung cancer is the leading occupational cancer in the U.S., affecting an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 workers in the U.S. each year, the union claimed. The USW, which consists of 850,000 workers across North American metal, rubber, chemical, energy and service industries, called the meeting to develop a strategy aiming to improve workers' health.

"We are now presented with an enormous opportunity to save workers from dying from lung cancer," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "Millions of workers have been exposed to asbestos, silica, chromium, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel and combustion products – and all of these exposures are firmly established as causes of human lung cancer."

Last week, NCI cut short its 10-year lung cancer screening study of more than 53,000 Americans to release its findings that annual screening using low dose helical chest CT lowered mortality due to lung cancer by 20 percent.

The Pittsburgh-based USW will hold its urgent meeting to devise strategies to:

• identify and notify workers at high risk for cancer;
• push for the inclusion of lung cancer CT screening in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) medical surveillance standards;
• stimulate government research and educational programs on lung cancer screening;
• engage professional organizations, government agencies and health insurers to make screening a top priority; and
• identify and promote funding for future lung CT screening research.

The USW is currently a sponsor of the CT-based Early Lung Cancer Detection Program, the second-largest occupational cancer study in the U.S. (the NCI study is the largest), according to USW.