Job loss following early-stage breast cancer diagnosis is associated with race and insurance status, but not with any clinical or treatment-related factors, finds a new study from The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.
[Photo: Dr. Christine Ekenga]
Analysts looked at employment data for working-age women with early-stage breast cancer two years after diagnosis. They found that African-American patients were four times more likely to leave the workforce than white patients, and that uninsured or publicly insured patients were 4.7 times more likely to leave the workforce than privately insured patients.
Participants were not asked why they were unable to work. A follow-up study aims to address this question.
“For women with breast cancer, employment could play a significant role in post-diagnostic health,” wrote the study’s lead author, Dr. Christine Ekenga, assistant professor at the Brown School. “Health benefits associated with employment include an increased sense of purpose, higher self-esteem and a stronger sense of social support from others, all of which have been associated with improved quality of life.”
The study was published Feb. 13 in the journal Cancer.