The researchers conducted a meta-analysis to determine the risk and factors associated with unemployment among adult cancer survivors compared with healthy control participants. They identified 26 articles reporting results from 36 studies meeting criteria for inclusion in the analysis. The 36 studies included 177,969 participants, with 20,366 cancer survivors and 157,603 healthy control participants.
The researchers found that overall, cancer survivors were 1.37 times more likely to be unemployed than healthy control participants (33.8 percent versus 15.2 percent). Additional analysis by diagnosis showed an increased risk of unemployment for survivors of breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, and cancers of the female reproductive organs. Higher risks of unemployment were not shown among survivors of blood cancer, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
In studies performed in countries with a relatively low background unemployment rate, the risk for unemployment for cancer patients was lower compared with healthy control participants than in studies performed in countries with a relatively high background unemployment rate.
Almost half of all cancer survivors are younger than 65 years, according to the authors. Several factors may promote unemployment, including job discrimination, difficulty combining treatment with full-time work and physical or mental limitations. Seven studies reported unemployment because of disability, with analysis indicating a nearly three times higher risk for unemployment because of disability for cancer patients compared with control participants. Several studies indicated that the reasons for unemployment included physical limitations, cancer-related symptoms, or both.
“Voluntary unemployment is not likely unless patients have other resources for income, which is not the case for most cancer survivors,” the authors write. “Many cancer survivors want and are able to return to work after diagnosis and treatment.”
MEDICA.de; Source: American Medical Association (AMA)