Prostate Cancer is a medical condition for which there may be an element of “industrial causation.” Since Prostate Cancer, in certain circumstances, may be industrially-related, an Injured Worker could make a workers’ compensation claim for their Prostate Cancer. If the Workers’ Compensation Claim was accepted, the Injured Worker would be entitled to receive the full range of benefits.  This includes disability payments, medical care, and death benefits.

This article will discuss Prostate Cancer, Prostate Cancer Treatment, Permanent Disability as a result of Prostate Cancer, Industrial Causation of Prostate Cancer, Labor Code Statutes relating to Prostate Cancer, and Caselaw relating to decisions involving Prostate Cancer.

What is Prostate Cancer? What are the Signs of Prostate Cancer? 

Prostate Cancer is a disease in the Prostate Gland. It occurs when cells in the prostate grows abnormally and uncontrollably. It is a slow growing cancer which may cause symptoms with respect to both urine flow and sexual function. Additionally, there may be more generalized symptoms such as pain in the low back or pelvis area, weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, dizziness, or fatigue. Sources: National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society.

How is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?

Per the American Cancer Society, there are many tests that are used to both diagnose and stage prostate cancer. Basically, an individual will go through a series of testing in order to assist in diagnosis. Urology is the field of medicine that address Prostate Cancer. Doctors who specialize in Urology are Urologists.

Tests include

  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) [Blood Test]
  • Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) [Physical Examination Test]
  • Prostate Biopsy [Surgical Procedure] Tissues are removed from the Prostate. A Pathologist makes a determination as to whether the tissue is negative for cancer, suspicious for cancer, or positive for cancer. Note: negative results does not mean that the individual should not be concerned about cancer. Further monitoring should be conducted.
  • Imaging Studies: X-Rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Ultrasound (Transrectral ultrasound aka TRUS), Radiology, Bone Scan, Computed Tomography (CT), and Lymph Node Biopsy

What are the Non-Industrial Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer?

There are a number of risk factors for prostate cancer. These risk factors include family history of prostate cancer, inherited genetic mutations, conditions such as prostatitis, inflammation of the prostate, and benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, diet high in red meats and high-fat dairy and low in fruits and vegetables, obesity, Age: approximately 60 percent of cases are diagnosed in men older than 65, Race and ethnicity (note: African-American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.)

Please note: Research has also shown that a healthy lifestyle, including a well-balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight, may reduce prostate cancer risk.

What are the Industrial Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer? Are There Other Factors?

Prostate Cancer can be work-related in two fashions. First, there is a scientific basis for showing that there is a causative factor in certain occupations or occupational exposures with respect to the development of Prostate Cancer. Second, there is a legal basis for showing a causative factor. A legal basis is a statutory presumption. For certain law enforcement officers and safety officers, they are afforded a “Cancer Presumption.” If they fit within the elements of the “Cancer Presumption,” they can be legally found to have industrial cancer without having to prove it on a scientific basis. Their Departments, however, are afforded the opportunity to “rebut the presumption.”

How is Prostate Cancer Work-Related?

Prostate Cancer can be work-related in a variety of manners. Prostate Cancer can be work-related with respect to certain:

  • Worksite Exposures: Certain Pesticides, Chromium
  • Occupations: Administrative and Management Positions, Firefighting and Law Enforcement, Pilots, and Agriculture
  • Work Activities: Shift Work
  • Labor Code Sections: Labor Code Presumption for Cancer 3212.1

See Cancer Med. 2018 Apr; 7(4): 1468–1478, Published online 2018 Mar 1. doi: 10.1002/cam4.1358 Prostate cancer surveillance by occupation and industry: the Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort (CanCHEC)

Jeavana Sritharan, Jill MacLeod,  Shelley Harris, Donald C. Cole, Anne Harris, Michael Tjepkema, Paul A. Peters, and Paul A. Demers; and J Cancer Prev. 2019 Jun; 24(2): 91–111.

Published online 2019 Jun 30. doi: 10.15430/JCP.2019.24.2.91, Occupational Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer: A Meta-analysisSrmena Krstev and Anders Knutsson

What is the Statutory Basis for Supporting Industrial Prostate Cancer?

Labor Code Section 3212.1 provides for a “General” Cancer Presumption. This Presumption applies to certain Safety and Law Enforcement Officers. This Presumption has been used to specifically make claims for “Prostate Cancer.” It provides as follows:

“(a) This section applies to all of the following:

(1) Active firefighting members, whether volunteers, partly paid, or fully paid, of all of the following fire departments:

(A) A fire department of a city, county, city and county, district, or other public or municipal corporation or political subdivision.

(B) A fire department of the University of California and the California State University.

(C) The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

(D) A county forestry or firefighting department or unit.

(2) Active firefighting members of a fire department that serves a United States Department of Defense installation and who are certified by the Department of Defense as meeting its standards for firefighters.

(3) Active firefighting members of a fire department that serves a National Aeronautics and Space Administration installation and who adhere to training standards established in accordance with Article 4 (commencing with Section 13155 ) of Chapter 1 of Part 2 of Division 12 of the Health and Safety Code.

(4) Peace officers, as defined in Section 830.1, subdivision (a) of Section 830.2 , and subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 830.37, of the Penal Code , who are primarily engaged in active law enforcement activities.

(5)(A) Fire and rescue services coordinators who work for the Office of Emergency Services.

(B) For purposes of this paragraph, “fire and rescue services coordinators” means coordinators with any of the following job classifications:  coordinator, senior coordinator, or chief coordinator.

(b) The term “injury,” as used in this division, includes cancer, including leukemia, that develops or manifests itself during a period in which any member described in subdivision (a) is in the service of the department or unit, if the member demonstrates that he or she was exposed, while in the service of the department or unit, to a known carcinogen as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or as defined by the director.

(c) The compensation that is awarded for cancer shall include full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity, and death benefits, as provided by this division.

(d) The cancer so developing or manifesting itself in these cases shall be presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employment.  This presumption is disputable and may be controverted by evidence that the primary site of the cancer has been established and that the carcinogen to which the member has demonstrated exposure is not reasonably linked to the disabling cancer.  Unless so controverted, the appeals board is bound to find in accordance with the presumption.  This presumption shall be extended to a member following termination of service for a period of three calendar months for each full year of the requisite service, but not to exceed 120 months in any circumstance, commencing with the last date actually worked in the specified capacity.

(e) The amendments to this section enacted during the 1999 portion of the 1999-2000 Regular Session shall be applied to claims for benefits filed or pending on or after January 1, 1997, including, but not limited to, claims for benefits filed on or after that date that have previously been denied, or that are being appealed following denial.

(f) This section shall be known, and may be cited, as the William Dallas Jones Cancer Presumption Act of 2010.”

Is There Caselaw concerning Industrial Prostate Cancer?

Yes. There has been some significant litigation with respect to Prostate Cancer.

Most caselaw has related around the “Cancer Presumption” and the issues related to it. Issue of interest in presumption litigation can include the burden of proof, the potential rebuttal of the presumption and the statute of limitations. The following are a sample of cases. County of Fresno vs. WCAB (2019) 84 C.C.C. 996 (writ denied) (Issue: whether claim barred by Statute of Limitations); County of Orange vs. WCAB (2005) 70 C.C.C. 1499 (Prostate Cancer found industrial. Defendant failed to rebut presumption.) Faust vs. City of San Diego (2003) 68 C.C.C. 1822 (Panel Decision) (Issue: the procedure concerning both establishing presumption and rebutting the presumption. In summary, in a case where an applicant has invoked the presumption of section 3212.1, the applicant has the initial burden of showing (1) that he or she was employed in an included capacity; (2) that he or she has been exposed to a known carcinogen during the employment; and (3) that he or she has developed or manifested cancer. When the applicant has made this showing, the burden shifts to the defendant to rebut the presumption by evidence that: (1) the primary site of the cancer has been identified; and (2) that the carcinogen is not reasonably linked to the disabling cancer.)

What is Permanent Disability Impairment for Prostate Cancer?

Permanent Disability Impairment for Prostate Cancer is multi-factorial. Prostate Cancer directly impacts two Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), urination and sexual function. The AMA Guides for Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition, has a Table 7-8 which addresses the Criteria for Rating Permanent Impairment Due to Prostate and Seminal Vesicle Disease discusses Prostate Cancer. It provides that “[f]or Prostate and seminal vesicle ablation; occurs almost exclusively with extirpative surgery for prostate cancer; combine impairment estimates for prostate and seminal vesicle loss with impairment for sexual dysfunction or urinary incontinence if present (see the Combined Values Chart, p. 604.)”

In sum, Permanent Disability Impairment from Prostate Cancer can be complex due to the nature and extent of both the condition and the treatment that has been provided.

What If I Need Legal Advice?

If you would like a free consultation concerning any workers’ compensation case, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 28 years. Contact us today for more information. Click Here.

Photo by Gus Moretta on Unsplash

9.3Edward Jay Singer
Edward Jay SingerReviewsout of 22 reviews