Most Breast Cancer Patients Return to Working Same Hours

Receiving chemotherapy increases the likelihood of reducing or discontinuing work

THURSDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly three-quarters of women treated for breast cancer return to their prediagnosis working time, according to a study published online July 9 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

To examine changes in working time 16 months after a breast cancer diagnosis, Marie Høyer, R.N., from the Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden, and colleagues identified patients with breast cancer using the Regional Breast Cancer Quality Register of Central Sweden. Questionnaires were completed at baseline and follow-up (average of four and 16 months after diagnosis) by 505 women (younger than 63 years at diagnosis).

Compared with prediagnosis working time, at follow-up the researchers found that 72 percent reported no change, 2 percent reported an increase, 15 percent reported a decrease, and 11 percent did not work. The likelihood of job discontinuation/decreased working time was increased for patients undergoing chemotherapy (odds ratio [OR], 2.45). For chemotherapy recipients, full-time work prediagnosis (OR, 3.25), cancer-related work limitations (OR, 5.26), and less value attached to work (OR, 3.69) correlated with decreased working time. Among patients not receiving chemotherapy, older age (OR, 1.09) and less value attached to work (OR, 5.00) correlated with decreased working time.

"Chemotherapy and cancer-related work limitations are important factors to take into account to identify women in need of support," the authors write. "It is also essential to consider that a breast cancer diagnosis may be followed by a reassessment of life goals. Thus, not returning to work or decreasing working time may be the optimal outcome for some women."

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