Nordic Occupational Cancer Study is a study with 45 years of cancer incidence data by occupational category for the Nordic populations.

Current project leader: Pär Sparén

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 the Swedish Research Council. The mesothelioma study has been financially supported by the Research Council for Working Life and Social Research.


Cancer incidence among Swedish firefighters: an extended follow-up of the NOCCA study.
Bigert C, Martinsen JI, Gustavsson P, Sparén P
Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2020 02;93(2):197-204

Occupational exposures and male breast cancer: A nested case-control study in the Nordic countries.
Talibov M, Hansen J, Heikkinen S, Martinsen JI, Sparen P, Tryggvadottir L, et al
Breast 2019 Dec;48():65-72    

Occupational exposure to trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene and the risk of lymphoma, liver, and kidney cancer in four Nordic countries.
Vlaanderen J, Straif K, Pukkala E, Kauppinen T, Kyyrönen P, Martinsen JI, et al
Occup Environ Med 2013 Jun;70(6):393-401                                      

Incidence of uterine leiomyosarcoma and endometrial stromal sarcoma in Nordic countries: results from NORDCAN and NOCCA databases.
Koivisto-Korander R, Martinsen J, Weiderpass E, Leminen A, Pukkala E
Maturitas 2012 May;72(1):56-60

Occupation and leukemia in Nordic countries.
Talibov M, Kautiainen S, Martinsen JI, Kjaerheim K, Lynge E, Sparen P, et al
J. Occup. Environ. Med. 2012 Dec;54(12):1527-32

Cancer incidence among priests: 45 years of follow-up in four Nordic countries.
Stang A, Martinsen JI, Kjaerheim K, Weiderpass E, Sparén P, Tryggvadóttir L, et al
Eur. J. Epidemiol. 2012 Feb;27(2):101-8

Occupation and risk of primary fallopian tube carcinoma in Nordic countries.
Riska A, Martinsen JI, Kjaerheim K, Lynge E, Sparen P, Tryggvadottir L, et al
Int. J. Cancer 2012 Jul;131(1):186-92

Occupation and scrotal cancer: results of the NOCCA study.
Verhoeven RH, Kiemeney LA, Coebergh JW, Weiderpass E, Kjaerheim K, Martinsen JI, et al
Acta Oncol 2011 Nov;50(8):1244-6

Effects of occupation on risks of avoidable cancers in the Nordic countries.
Kjaerheim K, Martinsen JI, Lynge E, Gunnarsdottir HK, Sparen P, Tryggvadottir L, et al
Eur. J. Cancer 2010 Sep;46(14):2545-54

Occupation and cancer - follow-up of 15 million people in five Nordic countries.
Pukkala E, Martinsen J, Lynge E, Gunnarsdottir H, Sparén P, Tryggvadottir L, et al
Acta Oncol 2009 ;48(5):646-790

Construction of job-exposure matrices for the Nordic Occupational Cancer Study (NOCCA).
Kauppinen T, Heikkilä P, Plato N, Woldbaek T, Lenvik K, Hansen J, et al
Acta Oncol 2009 ;48(5):791-800


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