• colorectal cancer;
  • employment;
  • work;
  • rehabilitation;
  • survivors


Background: How cancer adversely affects an individual's work role is an understudied survivorship issue. There are no Australian studies quantifying work participation after cancer or the potential barriers to work continuance. Using a large, population-based cohort of working adults with colorectal cancer, we assessed changes in work participation separately for men (n=621) and women (n=354).

Methods:Telephone survey methods collected data on colorectal cancer survivors identified through the Queensland Cancer Registry. Status at baseline and one-year post-diagnosis were described, and logistic regression models assessed correlates of work cessation.

Results: Among working adults who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, 33% of men and 40% of women were not working at one-year post-diagnosis. Radiation therapy among men (OR=2.55, 95%CI: 1.35–4.83) and chemotherapy among women (OR=2.49, 95% Cl: 1.23–5.04) were associated with a higher prevalence of work cessation. Having private health insurance was linked with resuming work for both men and women.

Conclusion:A large proportion of working men and women leave the workforce by 12 months following a diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Factors correlated with work cessation after colorectal cancer appear different for men and women.

Implications:A better understanding of how cancer affects working adults and contributes to unwanted work cessation is required to identify individuals who may benefit from occupational rehabilitation programs.