Long-term effects of cancer have a greater impact on patients than health and survival. As more people survive cancer, economic hardship and employment potential are becoming significant issues for survivors, according to a study published online ahead of print in Cancer.

The impact of a cancer diagnosis on employment, hours worked, individual income, and total family income are significant; however, little is known about how cancer impacts these economic outcomes for survivors.

In this study, the authors used data from the 1990 through 2009 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.

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Estimates of the impact of cancer on the 4 outcomes were derived from age-adjusted, sex-stratified, individual fixed-effects regression models on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.

This study is a nationally representative, prospective, population-based observational study with high-quality individual and family-level economic information.

Aggregate estimates in this study show that probability of employment decreased by almost 10 percentage points for patients with cancer, and hours worked were up to 200 hours less in the first year after diagnosis.

Individual income was almost 40% less within 2 years after diagnosis and remained low. Total family income was 20% less but recovered within 4 years after diagnosis.

These economic impacts were based on effects among men with cancer. The effects among women with cancer were not statistically significant.

The authors conclude that the increasing numbers of cancer survivors in the United States highlights the need to examine the long-term impacts on the economic well-being of cancer survivors and find ways to mitigate the associated economic hardship.


1. Zajacova A, Dowd, JB, Schoeni RF, Wallace RB. Employment and income losses among cancer survivors: Estimates from a national longitudinal survey of American families [published online ahead of print October 26, 2015]. Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.29510.