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Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2007 Jan;16(1):17-25.

Returning to work following cancer: a qualitative exploratory study into the experience of returning to work following cancer.

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Centre of Appearance Research, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, Bristol, UK.


The experience of returning to work following cancer is a largely unknown area of cancer research. This preliminary study aimed to explore the factors that influence decisions about return to work either during or after cancer treatment and to identify the important aspects of returning to work. Qualitative data were collected using individual interviews (n = 19) and two focus groups (n = 4, n = 6), predominantly with breast cancer survivors. Patterns of returning to work were diverse and a variety of reasons influenced work decisions, including financial concerns and regaining normality. Participants also discussed their ability to work, health professionals' advice, side effects, support and adjustments, and attitudes towards work. Although the majority adapted well, a few encountered difficulties on their return. It is evident that more advice is required from health professionals about returning to work, along with reasonable support and adjustments from employers to ensure that cancer survivors are able to successfully reintegrate back into the workforce.

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