PURPOSE: If patients facing difficulties in the process of returning to work after treatment of cancer could be identified, these patients could be assisted in the transition. This might help some patients to stay in work. We therefore assessed demographic and clinical factors associated with returning to work after a cancer diagnosis.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this cross-sectional survey, 1490 cancer patients who had been in contact with a hospital department during the past 12 months in three Danish counties responded to a mailed questionnaire. Factors associated with employment and return to work (i.e., working more than 0 h in the past month) respectively, were assessed in multivariate ordinal logistic regression models.
RESULTS: Of the 598 patients below age 65 who were employed at the time of diagnosis, 75% were still employed when answering the questionnaire at a median of 2.8 years after diagnosis and 63% were working. In multivariate analyses, younger and more recently diagnosed patients were more often employed. Patients diagnosed with lung or head and neck cancer were least likely to be employed and having returned to work. Advanced cancer at diagnosis was associated with loss of employment. Advanced cancer and being in active treatment were associated with not having returned to work.
CONCLUSION: A quarter of the patients had lost their employment probably resulting in economic consequences on the individual as well as at the societal level. The highest risk was observed for older patients and those diagnosed with lung or head and neck cancer.