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Nordic Occupational Cancer Study

Project leader: Nils Plato, co-PI Elisabete Weiderpass and Pär Sparén
Project status:  Ongoing

Project description  

We present up to 45 years of cancer incidence data by occupational category for the Nordic populations. The study covers the 15 million people aged 30-64 years in the 1960, 1970, 1980/1981 and/or 1990 censuses in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and the 2.8 million incident cancer cases diagnosed in these people in a follow-up until about 2005.

Further studies will focus on associations between specific work-related factors and well-defined cancer diseases with the aim to identify exposure-response patterns. In addition to the cancer data demonstrated in the incidence publication, the NOCCA project produces a Nordic Job Exposure Matrix (JEM) that transforms information about occupational title histories to quantitative estimates of specific exposures. JEM was constructed on the basis of a Finnish matrix (FINJEM) for the five Nordic countries to identify the carcinogen exposure in the NOCCA study. The structure of the JEM-makers are three dimension. They include more than 20 agents (17 chemicals), 311 occupations and four time periods. The exposure has been characterized on the prevalence, P (%) and exposure level, L (mg/m3), by a Nordic expert team using national exposure data set. The product P * L form the exposure index. The third essential component is methodological development targeted at better interpretation of results based on averaged information of exposures and co-factors in the occupational categories. Gender-specific analysis of the cohort has now been made for 53 occupations in 75 diagnosed cancer sites. Continued analysis of the substance and dose for different cancer sites is imminent. The Swedish JEM in NOCCA should be used in other studies. The Swedish part of the study is done in collaboration with the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at KI.


The NOCCA study has been financially supported by the Nordic Cancer Union and Scientific Council in Sweden. The mesothelioma study has been financially supported by the Research Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS).

Research group

Name Role
Nils Plato Associate professor
Elisabete Weiderpass Professor, co-PI
Pär Sparén Professor, co-PI
Jan-Ivar Martinsen Database manager
Pouran Almstedt Database manager


More information about the study