Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 403 12
M. Crystal - E. Tracey - D. Broadbent
  • Cancer (multiple myeloma)
  • Exposure (benzene)
  • Construction (roofer)

The worker was a roofer from 1965 to 2005. He had a high or moderate to high level of exposure to fumes and dust from coal tar pitch and asphalt, which include benzene solubles. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma is a hematopoietic disorder. Much literature addresses issues relating to other hematopoietic disorders, such as acute myelogenous leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. However, multiple myeloma is a unique disease which differentiates itself from other hematopoietic disorders. Accordingly, the Panel gave weight to the literature as it applied to multiple myeloma specifically and gave appropriate weight to literature relating generally to hematopoietic disorders.
There is an ongoing debate over the issue of whether exposure to benzene can be related to multiple myeloma. A Tribunal medical assessor referred to eight abstracts of journal articles, only three of which were supportive of a relationship. The assessor himself expressed a strong view that a relationship between multiple myeloma and benzene exposure is not probable.
The Panel reviewed the evidence extensively and concluded that the worker did not have entitlement for multiple myeloma. The appeal was dismissed.