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Unemployment Higher Among Cancer Survivors

Link strongest for survivors of breast, gastrointestinal or female reproductive organ cancers

TUESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer survivors, especially of the breast, gastrointestinal system and female reproductive organs, have an increased risk of experiencing unemployment, according to a review published in the Feb. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Angela G.E.M. de Boer, Ph.D., of the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues evaluated employment trends among cancer survivors by performing a systematic search of published studies from the United States, Europe and other countries. The investigators calculated pooled relative risks using data from 36 studies including 20,366 cancer survivors and 157,603 healthy controls.

Overall, cancer survivors were over twice as likely to be unemployed as healthy controls (33.8 percent versus 15.2 percent), the investigators found. Rates of unemployment were highest among survivors of breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancers and cancers of the female reproductive organs. Risk of unemployment among cancer survivors was 1.48-fold higher in the United States compared with Europe, the researchers report. However, this regional disparity disappeared after adjustment for diagnosis, age and background unemployment rate, the report indicates.

"In conclusion, cancer survivors are at an increased risk of unemployment, especially survivors of breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancers and cancers of the female reproductive organs, and cancer patients living in countries or times with relatively high unemployment rates. Development of interventions involving clinicians and other professionals to enhance participation in the work life of cancer survivors is needed," the authors write.

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