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23 Oct 2017

Employees need more support to return to work after breast cancer

More women are surviving breast cancer, but their return to work rates vary considerably across Europe.

That´s according to a new study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Pfizer, which investigated the challenges involved in returning to employment for the growing number of breast cancer patients and survivors of working age.

The report suggests there is “substantial room for improvement” in policies and practices to support those who wish to return to work.

National return to work rates for breast cancer patients and survivors who were in a job at the time of diagnosis range from 43% in the Netherlands to 82% in France.

For many women, returning to work is a crucial part of “getting back to normal”. But not all who wish to return to work succeed.

The side effects of breast cancer and treatment make returning to work harder, but there are also non-medical barriers including lack of employer or colleague support, the extent to which the work is physically demanding, and the woman´s level of education.

Employers´ actions and attitudes are central to successful return to work by survivors, the study showed.

Rather than waiting for someone to become ill, and responding in an ad hoc way, employers should think ahead in order to have appropriate policies and, where appropriate, programmes in place, the report recommends. These should emphasise communication, so that responses can be tailored to individual situations.

“While data on the likely impact of specific interventions are sparse, this study finds that simply engaging with the return-to-work issue is an important first step to ensure that breast cancer survivors receive the support they need,” commented Aviva Freudmann, research director of EMEA Thought Leadership for the Economist Intelligence Unit, who directed the study.

Copyright © M2 Bespoke 2017

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