Boss key to return to work after breast cancer
Research indicates that the vast majority of working women who develop breast cancer return to their job after treatment and it helps to have an accommodating employer.
“Working women who develop breast cancer can be encouraged to know that they can maintain a high quality of life after a breast cancer diagnosis because over 80 percent of employed women in our study returned to their same job position within one year of their cancer diagnosis,” study chief Dr. Reynard R. Bouknight told Reuters Health.
The findings are based on a study of 416 employed women with recently diagnosed breast cancer who Bouknight and colleagues interviewed 12 and 18 months after being diagnosed with the disease.
Employer workplace accommodation was a key factor that helped women return to work, the team reports in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Eighty-seven percent of employers were willing to accommodate their workers’ illness and treatment needs. “Working breast cancer survivors can be helped immensely by an employer who is sensitive to their health care needs,” said Bouknight who is from Michigan State University in East Lansing.
Women who perceived that their employer was not supportive were less likely to return to work.
Women were also less likely to return to work if they had general poor health prior to the cancer diagnosis or advanced tumors. Women who had to do a lot of heavy lifting on the job were also less likely to return to work.
“Working women,” Bouknight offered, “should try to maintain good general health since they will fair better if they develop breast cancer. Regular breast cancer screening,” he added, “is important for working women since they are more likely to be able to return to their jobs if breast cancer is diagnosed early.”
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, January 20, 2006.
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