Back to Work
This summary of a recent study directly contradicts one that I posted recently re patterns of work return after breast cancer. (http://www.bidmc.org/YourHealth/BIDMCInteractive/Blogs/LivingwithBreastCancer.aspx?page=3&entry=1996)
The earlier posting shared a study indicating that, even five years after completing treatment, breast cancer survivors took many more sick days that other women. Those results baffled me then and baffle me now. Several of you wrote to me to share your thoughts about these findings, and mostly agreed that the reasons may have more to do with education, income, and employment factors than with the history of illness.
Anyway, today's entry reflects the reality as I see it. Most women whom I have known try to maintain their usual work schedules as much as possible and then try to return as soon as possible. To some extent, of course, this is about income, but it is also about trying to keep life normal and sustain one's usual sense of self and place in the world. It obviously depends a lot of what kind of work you do and where you do it. Pre-school teachers and heavy contruction workers, for example, likely need to take time away from work during adjuvant treatment. But many women have jobs which are supportive and flexible and less physically demanding and manage to sustain pretty regular routines.
Here is the summary from Health News Articles. It includes links to read more:
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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