Purpose: We examined changes in working time 16 months after a breast cancer diagnosis and identified factors associated with job discontinuation and/or decreased working time.
Patients and methods: This was a population-based cohort study with 735 patients identified in the Regional Breast Cancer Quality Register of Central Sweden. The study sample consisted of 505 women (age < 63 years at diagnosis) who completed questionnaires at baseline and at follow-up (on average 4 and 16 months after diagnosis, respectively). Clinical register data and questionnaire data on sociodemographic factors were obtained at baseline. Self-reported work-related data were obtained at follow-up. Odds ratios were estimated by using logistic regression models.
Results: Compared with prediagnosis working time, 72% reported no change in working time, 2% reported an increase, 15% reported a decrease, and 11% did not work at follow-up. Chemotherapy increased the likelihood (odds ratio [OR], 2.45; 95% CI, 1.38 to 4.34) of job discontinuation/decreased working time. Among chemotherapy recipients, associated factors included full-time work prediagnosis (OR, 3.25; 95% CI, 1.51 to 7.01), cancer-related work limitations (OR, 5.26; 95% CI, 2.30 to 12.03), and less value attached to work (OR, 3.69; 95% CI, 1.80 to 7.54). In the nonchemotherapy group, older age (OR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.17) and less value attached to work (OR, 5.00; 95% CI, 2.01 to 12.45) were associated with the outcome.
Conclusion: The majority of women treated for breast cancer returned to their prediagnosis working time. Chemotherapy and cancer-related work limitations are important factors to take into account in identifying women in need of support. Moreover, it is important to consider the woman's own valuation of labor market participation.