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Acta Oncol. 2007;46(4):446-51.

Factors affecting cancer survivors' employment and work ability.

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  • 1Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Centre of Expertise for Health and Work Ability, Helsinki, Finland.



Due to the improved prognosis of many forms of cancer, an increasing number of cancer survivors are both willing and able to return to work after their treatment. This has increased interest in studying work and cancer-related issues. The purpose of this paper is to give an overview of research on the impact of cancer on employment and work ability, on the effect of psychosocial factors on survivors' well-being, and to indicate research needs for the future.


Studies have shown that the majority of cancer survivors are able to continue working. There is, however, a group of cancer survivors who suffer from impaired health as a result of their illness, and this impairment sometimes leads to a decreased ability to work, or even disability. Employment and impaired work ability has most commonly been found to be associated with cancer type, type of treatment, health status, education and physical workload. The few studies that have focused on the effects of psychosocial factors in work life suggest that social support from occupational health services, and workplace accommodations for illness affect cancer survivors' return to work.


More research is needed on the impact of social factors at work, which seem to play an important role in cancer survivors' ability to continue working.

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