Objective: Cancer survival has improved in recent years, but data on return to work (RTW) after cancer are sparsely published. Therefore, this study analysed RTW after cancer.
Methods: Employees diagnosed with breast cancer, genital cancer, gastro-intestinal cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, or blood malignancies were selected from an occupational health register. Sickness absence was followed for 2 years after diagnosis and full RTW at equal earnings as before sickness absence was assessed for each cancer site using Cox proportional hazards regression analysis stratifying for age and gender.
Results: 3701 (73%) of 5074 employees with cancer had full RTW after a median duration of 290 days. Employees with lung cancer had the longest duration of sickness absence and only 45% of them had full RTW 2 years after diagnosis compared with 88% of employees with genital cancer and 87% of employees with skin cancer. Age was associated with the time to full RTW among employees with genital cancer: women aged⩾35 years had a longer time to full RTW compared with women <35 years and men aged⩾55 years had a longer time to full RTW compared with men <35 years. Gender was associated with the time to full RTW among survivors of blood malignancies with women having a longer time to full RTW than men.
Conclusions: Most employees had full RTW within 2 years after the diagnosis of cancer and the time to RTW was largely independent of age and gender. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.