Long-term cancer survivors struggle to keep regular work hours

June 19, 2012, Springer

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

T-cells engineered to outsmart tumors induce clinical responses in relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma

January 16, 2018
WASHINGTON-(Jan. 16, 2018)-Tumors have come up with ingenious strategies that enable them to evade detection and destruction by the immune system. So, a research team that includes Children's National Health System clinician-researchers ...

Researchers identify new treatment target for melanoma

January 16, 2018
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a new therapeutic target for the treatment of melanoma. For decades, research has associated female sex and a history of previous ...

More evidence of link between severe gum disease and cancer risk

January 16, 2018
Data collected during a long-term health study provides additional evidence for a link between increased risk of cancer in individuals with advanced gum disease, according to a new collaborative study led by epidemiologists ...

Researchers develop a remote-controlled cancer immunotherapy system

January 15, 2018
A team of researchers has developed an ultrasound-based system that can non-invasively and remotely control genetic processes in live immune T cells so that they recognize and kill cancer cells.

Dietary fat, changes in fat metabolism may promote prostate cancer metastasis

January 15, 2018
Prostate tumors tend to be what scientists call "indolent" - so slow-growing and self-contained that many affected men die with prostate cancer, not of it. But for the percentage of men whose prostate tumors metastasize, ...

Pancreatic tumors may require a one-two-three punch

January 15, 2018
One of the many difficult things about pancreatic cancer is that tumors are resistant to most treatments because of their unique density and cell composition. However, in a new Wilmot Cancer Institute study, scientists discovered ...

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.