The diagnosis and treatment of cancer often causes financial stress, partly by impacting on the ability to continue in paid employment. Our aim was to identify changes in work status 12 months after a diagnosis of breast cancer.
An audit of the medical records of women who presented to the Western Health nurse led breast cancer Survivorship Clinic (SC) between October 2015 and October 2016 was performed to identify employment status at diagnosis and at their review at SC 12 months later.
111 records were reviewed. The mean age was 55 (range 28-82yrs). 46 (41%) were in paid employment at diagnosis, and 33 (72%) were still working in some capacity at review in the SC. Of the 33 still working, 23 were working in the same capacity, 6 were working reduced hours, 1 was working increased hours, and 3 had unspecified hours.
Financial stress was reported by 7/15 of women who stopped working or had changed work hours, including 4 no longer in paid employment, 2 with reduced hours, and the 1 woman working extra hours. 2/23 women working in the same capacity reported financial stress.
A breast cancer diagnosis has the ability to influence a woman's work status one year after diagnosis. Health professionals should appreciate the potential work concerns and financial stresses continuing to affect their patients.