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Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2012 Jan;21(1):117-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2354.2011.01304.x. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

Working while receiving chemotherapy: a survey of patients' experiences and factors that influence these.

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  • 1Guys and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, Guys Hospital, Great Maze Road, London, UK.


The purpose of this study was to estimate the number of patients who continue to work when undergoing ambulatory chemotherapy and to identify personal or treatment-related factors that influence this. Patients undergoing final cycles of adjuvant chemotherapy for breast or colorectal cancer or first-line chemotherapy for lymphoma at two cancer treatment centres were approached to take part in a cross sectional survey (n= 55, RR 55%). Sixty-four per cent (n= 35) of respondents were working when cancer was diagnosed. Fifty-four per cent (n= 19) of respondents were working when chemotherapy began but as treatment progressed only 29% (n= 10) continued to work in any capacity. The most important influencing factor when making decisions about work was the need to concentrate on looking after oneself. Overall, respondents found their employers and colleagues supportive but there was some evidence they became less supportive as treatment progressed. While this was a small study it highlights the need for health care professionals to understand patient's needs and wishes in relation to work while undergoing chemotherapy by including this issue as part of routine assessment. Strategies to allow those who wish to continue to work during treatment should be put in place early to support this.

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