Asbestos: ovarian and larynx cancers recognized as occupational diseases

Asbestos: ovarian and larynx cancers recognized as occupational diseases

Beyond pleural cancer, asbestos is the cause of numerous laryngeal and ovarian cancers. Since October 16, these pathologies have finally been recognized as occupational diseases, paving the way for compensation and support for patients.

Asbestos – a fibrous material banned in Europe since 1997 – is the cause of numerous laryngeal and ovarian cancers. The legal recognition of this link by a decree opens the way to better recognition and compensation for victims.

Asbestos causes pleural cancer but also other cancers

Bronchopulmonary and pleural cancers (a malignant tumor in the membrane surrounding the lung) are already part of the “table of occupational diseases” (which aims to facilitate the recognition and management of diseases) .

However, they are not the only cancers that can be caused by these carcinogenic fibers. In September 2022, an expertise carried out by ANSES highlighted the proven causal relationship between the risk of occurrence of laryngeal and ovarian cancers and occupational exposure to asbestos. A large number of scientific elements argue in favor of the recognition of this link recognized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) since 2012.

But until now this scientific recognition had not legally translated into recognition via the table of occupational diseases. A dramatic consequence for patients, as ANSES pointed out: “only 130 requests for recognition of laryngeal cancer as an occupational disease associated with exposure to asbestos were examined between 2010 and 2020.. In addition, out of six requests for recognition of ovarian cancers linked to occupational exposure to asbestos, none was recognized.

Recognition as occupational diseases

Asbestos is commonly associated with lung and pleural cancers, but neither doctors nor patients always make the link with other cancers. But the situation will change with the publication of a decree in the Official Journal which takes effect on October 16: “The text creates table of occupational diseases No. 30 ter relating to cancers of the larynx and ovary caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust. It determines the conditions of coverage for occupational illnesses, as well as the list of work likely to cause these pathologies.“.

The objective of this law is to facilitate compensation and support by Social Security for eligible people. According to the terms of the decree, the coverage period is set at 35 years, subject to an exposure period of 5 years.

According to Santé Publique Europe, 7 to 40% of ENT cancers are caused by occupational exposure. Ovarian cancer is the 9th leading cause of cancer in women. Asbestos is also linked to other types of cancers: colorectal, pharyngeal and stomach cancers.