Changes in employment status up to 5 years after breast cancer diagnosis: A prospective cohort study.


EPIUnit - Instituto de Saúde Pública, Universidade do Porto, Portugal; Departamento de Ciências da Saúde Pública e Forenses e Educação Médica, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Portugal. Electronic address: [Email]


OBJECTIVE : To assess how sociodemographic, clinical and treatment characteristics impact employment status five-years following a breast cancer diagnosis, and to compare the incidence rate of changes with the general population.
METHODS : A total of 462 women with incident breast cancer were evaluated before treatment and three- and five-years later. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (95%CIs) were computed through multinomial logistic regression. Data for comparisons were retrieved from the SHARE Project. Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) with 95%CIs were calculated using Poisson regression.
RESULTS : Among the 242 employed women prior to diagnosis, 162 remained employed, 26 became unemployed, 27 entered early retirement, 14 entered normal retirement and 13 were on sick leave at five-years. Unemployment increased with age (≥55 vs < 55 years: OR = 4.49, 95%CI:1.56-12.92; OR = 3.40, 95%CI:1.05-10.97 at three- and five-years, respectively) and decreased with education (>4 vs ≤ 4 years: OR = 0.36, 95%CI:0.13-0.97; OR = 0.27, 95%CI:0.10-0.71 at three- and five-years, respectively). Axillary surgery (unemployment at five-years: OR = 5.13, 95%CI:1.30-20.27), hormonal therapy (unemployment at three-years: OR = 0.28, 95%CI:0.10-0.83) and targeted therapy (sick leave at three-years: OR = 3.79, 95%CI:1.14-12.63) also influenced employment status. Five-years post diagnosis, women with breast cancer had a lower incidence of unemployment (IRR = 0.51, 95%CI:0.30-0.89) than the general population, while, among older women, there was a higher tendency to enter early retirement (IRR = 1.72, 95%CI:0.82-3.61).
CONCLUSIONS : Although not all women may want to pursue or continue a professional life following their breast cancer experience; those who do may benefit from social and employer support when returning to work.


Breast neoplasm,Cancer survivorship,Employment status,Retirement,Sick leave,

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