According to findings reported in Cancer, patients with early-stage breast cancer who experienced fatigue, were of African American descent, had nonprivate insurance or were uninsured were more likely to have reduced rates of employment 2 years after surgery.

Patients with cancer typically have lower rates of employment compared with healthy persons, but the experience of women with early-stage breast cancer, who are typically of working age compared with patients with other types of cancer, requires further investigation.

For this study, researchers assessed the outcomes of 347 patients and 376 healthy control patients in 4 different employment trajectories (sustained unemployment, diminished employment, emerging employment, and sustained employment), and utilized multivariable logistic regression models to determine factors correlated with emerging employment vs sustained unemployment, and diminished employment vs sustained employment. At baseline, patients with early-stage breast cancer reported a rate of 71% full- or part-time employment compared with 79% among control patients.

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After 2 years of follow-up, there were no significant differences in employment trajectories between the patient and control groups.

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Multivariate analyses showed that fatigue was a significant factor in predicting diminished employment in both patient and healthy study arms. Among patients, African American race and public/uninsured status were associated with diminished employment.

High social support was found to be associated with emerging employment in the control groups.

The authors concluded that “further investigation with longer follow-up is warranted to identify factors associated with these disparities in employment participation after treatment of early-stage breast cancer.”


Ekenga CC, Perez M, Margenthaler JA, Jeffe DB. Early-stage breast cancer and employment participation after 2 years of follow-up: a comparison with age-matched controls [published online February 13, 2018]. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.31270