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Treatments for prostate cancer may affect employment

Prostate cancer and its treatment may affect short-term employment status, and debilitating effects from the treatment may impede some job-related tasks, reports a new study in the July 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

As more organizations recommend screening younger men for prostate cancer, the profile of prostate cancer patients is likely to shift from men older than 65 years to younger men who are more likely to still be in the work force. Treatments for prostate cancer can involve a number of complications, including incontinence, fatigue, or sexual dysfunction, many of which may interfere with work productivity.

To determine the influence of cancer treatment on employment, Cathy J. Bradley, Ph.D., of the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and colleagues tracked 267 men with prostate cancer who were employed at the start of the study. They asked the patients about their employment situation 3 months prior to receiving their diagnosis of cancer, and at 6 and 12 months after the diagnosis. They compared the results with those from two control groups of men without prostate cancer selected from U.S. Census population surveys.

The authors found that men with prostate cancer were 10% less likely to be working 6 months after their cancer diagnosis than men without the disease. However, approximately two-thirds of the patients still working said that they continued working out of fear of losing health insurance coverage. The authors note that this fear may have encouraged some who otherwise would have quit to keep working, which may have suppressed unemployment numbers. Additionally, those still working had decreased their weekly hours work by 4 hours on average, and 43% of them attributed their inability to work at their former capacity to cancer treatment-related symptoms.

After 12 months, the gap in employment status disappeared. However, some men with can
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Contact: Sarah L. Zielinski
jncimedia@oupjournals.org
301-841-1287
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
5-Jul-2005


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