Early work patterns for gynaecological cancer survivors in the USA

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Background: Little is known about the balance between work demands and treatment plans for >4.3 million working-age cancer survivors in the USA. Aims: To describe changes in work status for gynaecological cancer survivors during the first 6 months following diagnosis and their experience with their employers' programmes and policies. Methods: One hundred and ten gynaecological cancer survivors who were working at the time of their cancer diagnosis completed a survey. Case record reviews documented their clinical characteristics and treatment details. Results: Ninety-five women (86%) had surgery; 81 (74%) received chemotherapy, radiotherapy or both in addition to surgery. Nine per cent of women said that they changed their treatment plan because of their jobs; in contrast, 62% of women said that they changed their work situation to accommodate their treatment plan. Overall, the most common month for women to stop working was Month 1 (41%), to decrease hours was Month 2 (32%) and to increase hours was Month 6 (8%). Twenty-eight per cent of women were aware of employer policies that assisted the return to work process; 70% of women were familiar with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and 56% with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Only 26% completed a formal request for work accommodations. After 6 months, 56 of 83 women (67%) remained working or had returned to work. Conclusions: Work patterns varied for these gynaecological cancer survivors over the first 6 months following diagnosis. Opportunities exist to improve communication about work and treatment expectations between cancer survivors, occupational health professionals, employers and treating clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the Minnesota Medical Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (P30 CA77598) utilizing the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota Biostatistics and Informatics Shared Resource.


  • Cancer
  • Restrictions
  • Survivorship
  • Work


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