Introduction Recent report by EU-OSHA reviews research on rehabilitation and return to work after cancer (Tikka, et al., 2017). About half of the annual 3.2 million new cases of cancer occur in working-age individuals. Further, in Europe in 2012, over half of the overall cancer burden was due to breast, colorectal, prostate, and lung cancer.
Methods Our study was based on nation-wide register information on ill-health benefits as well as employment and unemployment periods for 2005–2009 in Finland. Eligible subjects had the first full-time sickness absence (fSA) due to cancer diagnosis (prostate/breast, lung, colon, bladder, non-melanoma skin, melanoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma), were 18–57 years of age and employed on the last day of the index sickness absence spell. They were followed from the first day of fSA until the first return to work (RTW) or other event (partial work disability, rehabilitation, fSA, full work disability retirement [fWDR], unemployment, or exit from labour force).
Result Altogether 9162 eligible subjects (2839 men; 6323 women) were identified. For several common cancers,≥80% of male and female patients were able to return to work. In lung cancer, with low survival rates, only around 25%–30% returned to work. After RTW, in prostate cancer and breast cancer, 70% were at work after 48 months. As to time spent in different statuses, 80%–85% of prostate cancer patients returned to work in 4–5 months, with fWDR and unemployment emerging eventually at 5%–7% level. Similarly, for breast cancer, 80% of the subjects returned to work in 10 months, with around 7% with fWDR from that onward.
Discussion Overall, for most common male and female cancers, around 80% of subjects were able to return to work within the first 4–12 months and 50%–60% were at work at the end of follow-up, with the exception of lung cancer, a fatal disease.
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