Cancer Survivors More Likely to be Unemployed

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A study found that cancer survivors were 37% more likely to be unemployed compared to people not treated for cancer. Survivors of colon, breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer were more likely than survivors of other cancers to be unemployed after treatment. Physical limitations because of cancer and its treatment, as well as the ability to work and the type of work cancer survivors could do seem to be the most likely reasons for higher unemployment rates among cancer survivors.

The study reviewed here looked at 36 other studies and analyzed all the results. This type of study is called a "meta-analysis". The 36 studies all looked at how cancer affects employment and compared the employment histories of more than 20,000 cancer survivors to the health histories of more than 150,000 people never treated for cancer.

Working during breast cancer diagnosis and treatment can be challenging. Because of pain, fatigue, or other treatment side effects, you may have to cut back your work hours or take time off. Even after you're done with treatment, you may not be ready to work full-time for a while.

Most employers will support you taking the time you need during and after breast cancer treatment to recover and heal with no affect on your employment. Still, there are problems sometimes. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects you against discrimination in the workplace because of a health issue. But you must tell your employer about your health condition.

For a number of reasons, some breast cancer survivors may choose not to work after treatment. That choice should not be made because of unfair treatment at work.

In the Breastcancer.org Breast Cancer and Your Job section, you can find information on the following topics related to working during and after breast cancer treatment:

  • talking to your boss and co-workers about your diagnosis
  • working during treatment
  • taking time off during treatment
  • considerations for people who are self-employed
  • looking for a new job during or after treatment
  • recognizing and responding to workplace discrimination

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