Long-term cancer survivors struggle to keep regular work hours

June 19, 2012

Long-term cancer survivors take sick leave more often than their disease-free colleagues, suggesting that they struggle at work despite their ability to work five years after diagnosis. These findings by Steffen Torp, from Vestfold University College in Norway, and colleagues is published online in Springer's Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

Most cancer survivors return to work. The ability to work following is important for maintaining self-respect, identity and living standard. For society, keeping people employed is key both for economic reasons and to prevent . Research to date shows that most cancer survivors are able to return to work, though a significant proportion report a reduced ability to work.

Torp and team observed the sick leave patterns of cancer survivors for five consecutive years after diagnosis. They were also interested in factors that might predict the amount of sick leave taken during the fifth year, including socio-demographic factors (education, family status, annual income, and occupation) and clinical factors ( and severity).

They analyzed data from Norwegian population-based registries and the Cancer Registry of Norway for 2,008 adults who had been diagnosed with . The control group comprised 3,240 carefully matched 'healthy' individuals.

They found that the amount of sick leave taken among long-term cancer survivors was significantly higher compared to controls for all five years after diagnosis. A total of 75 percent of the long-term cancer survivors took sick leave within the first 12 months after their diagnosis. Over the following four years, 23 percent of men and 31 percent of women recovering from cancer took sick leave, compared to approximately 18 percent of men and 27 percent of women in the control group.

Interestingly, socio-demographic factors were more important predictors of sick leave than the type or severity of the cancer. Being single with children, having low education, working in the health and social care sector, or having taken sick leave the year before diagnosis predicted sick leave taken five years after diagnosis.

The authors conclude: "Employed long-term cancer survivors may struggle with health impairments or reduced work ability five years after diagnosis. A socioeconomic and work environmental perspective seems necessary for occupational rehabilitation and the health and safety of , in order to reduce the rate of sick leave in this group."

Explore further: Cancer survivors have lower employment rates and work fewer hours

More information: Torp S et al (2012). Sick leave patterns among 5-year cancer survivors: a registry-based retrospective cohort study. Journal of Cancer Survivorship; DOI 10.1007/s11764-012-0228-8

Related Stories

Cancer survivors have lower employment rates and work fewer hours

June 22, 2011
Cancer survivors are less likely to be employed, and they work fewer hours, than similarly aged adults without a history of cancer, even two to six years after diagnosis, according to a study by Penn State researchers.

Sexual orientation affects cancer survivorship

May 9, 2011
Gay men have a higher prevalence of cancer compared with heterosexual men, and lesbian and bisexual female cancer survivors report lower levels of health than heterosexual female cancer survivors. Those are the conclusions ...

Recommended for you

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Scientists develop novel immunotherapy technology for prostate cancer

August 17, 2017
A study led by scientists at The Wistar Institute describes a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer based on the use of synthetic DNA to directly encode protective antibodies against a cancer specific ...

Scientists develop blood test that spots tumor-derived DNA in people with early-stage cancers

August 16, 2017
In a bid to detect cancers early and in a noninvasive way, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have developed a test that spots tiny amounts of cancer-specific DNA in blood and have used it to ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

Cell cycle-blocking drugs can shrink tumors by enlisting immune system in attack on cancer

August 16, 2017
In the brief time that drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, doctors have made a startling observation: in certain patients, the drugs—designed to halt cancer ...

Researchers find 'switch' that turns on immune cells' tumor-killing ability

August 16, 2017
Molecular biologists led by Leonid Pobezinsky and his wife and research collaborator Elena Pobezinskaya at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have published results that for the first time show how a microRNA molecule ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.