Cancer survivors who reported chronic neuropathic pain 5 years after diagnosis were approximately half as likely to retain their jobs as survivors without chronic neuropathic pain, according to a study presented at the European Cancer Congress (ECCO) 2017.1

Although previous research has demonstrated an association between neuropathic pain and economic and social burden, the social impact of chronic neuropathic pain in the context of cancer remains unclear. Due to the high prevalence of neuropathic pain among cancer survivors, researchers hypothesized that it may be a major long-term barrier to return to work.

To investigate factors associated with job retention, particularly chronic neuropathic pain, among cancer survivors, researchers analyzed data from 1139 cancer survivors included in the French national, longitudinal survey VICAN. VICAN collected clinical, medical, and social data on patients with 11 cancer types diagnosed in 2010.

At the time of diagnosis, 982 patients were employed, with 77.4% retaining their jobs 5 years after cancer diagnosis. Investigators found that women were significantly more likely to retain their jobs at 5 years compared with men (80.0% vs 69.9%; P =.001).

Among the 28.4% of cancer survivor who reported chronic neuropathic pain 5 years after diagnosis, 67.4% had already experienced chronic neuropathic pain in the 3 years prior.

Results showed that cancer survivors who reported chronic neuropathic pain 5 years after diagnosis were 54% less likely to retain their jobs than survivors without chronic neuropathic pain (odds ratio, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.337-0.631).

After adjusting for multiple variables, the study demonstrated that job retention at 5 years after diagnosis was significantly associated with chronic neuropathic pain, working condition, and education level.

The findings ultimately suggest that chronic neuropathic pain is an undermanaged adverse event among cancer survivors that can significantly impact job retention 5 years after diagnosis. Novel treatment strategies are needed to adequately address chronic neuropathic pain and limit its negative effect on the quality of life of cancer survivors.


1. Bendiane M, Alleaume C, Cortaredona S, Rey D, Bouhnik AD, Peretti-Watel P. Impact of chronic neuropathic pain on job retention among cancer survivors: evidence from the French national survey VICAN. Paper presented at: European Cancer Congress (ECCO) 2017; January 27-30, 2017; Amsterdam, Netherlands.