Change in the value of work after breast cancer: evidence from a prospective cohort

J Cancer Surviv. 2022 Mar 10. doi: 10.1007/s11764-022-01197-w. Online ahead of print.


Background: Return to work (RTW) after cancer can be modulated by psychosocial factors, including a reordering of one's life values, with more emphasis on private life than work-life. This change in patients' outlook on work-life is however poorly understood.

Methods: We used data from a French cohort (CANTO, NCT01993498) of women diagnosed with stage I-III primary breast cancer (BC) prospectively assessing life priorities between work and private life at diagnosis and 2 years after diagnosis. We identified women who reported a shift in life values toward private life, and we investigated the clinical, demographic, work-related, and psychosocial determinants of this change using logistic regressions.

Results: Overall, 46% (N = 1097) of the women had reordered their life priorities toward private life 2 years after diagnosis. The factors positively associated with this shift included being diagnosed with stage III BC, perceiving one's job as not very interesting, being an employee/clerk (vs. executive occupation), perceiving no support from the supervisor at baseline, perceiving negative interferences of cancer in daily life, and perceiving a positive impact from experiencing cancer. Depressive symptoms were negatively associated with this shift.

Conclusion: After BC, there seems to be an important reordering of life values, with more emphasis on private life. This change is influenced by clinical determinants, but also by work-related and psychosocial factors.

Implications for cancer survivors: Stakeholders should consider this change in a patient's outlook on work-life as much as the classical physical late effects when designing post-BC programs to support RTW.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Change of value of work; Cohort.