Short-term effect of colorectal cancer on income: analysis of an Italian cohort

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2023 Mar;77(3):196-201. doi: 10.1136/jech-2022-220088. Epub 2023 Jan 27.


Introduction: The ability to return to work after a cancer diagnosis is a key aspect of cancer survivorship and quality of life. Studies have reported a significant risk of income loss for cancer survivors; however, there is limited evidence of the Italian context.

Methods: The Work Histories Italian Panel (WHIP)-Salute database was used to select a cohort of incident cases of colorectal cancer (CRC) among workers in the private sector, based on hospital discharges. A propensity score matching was used to find a balanced control group for several confounders. Ordinary least square and logistic regressions were used to estimate the effect of a CRC diagnosis on annual income and the probability of switching from a full-time contract to a part-time one considering 3 years after the diagnosis.

Results: Overall, we identified 925 CRC incident cases from 2006 until 2012. Our results confirm a statistically significant reduction in survivors' income compared with controls. This reduction was greater in the first year and then tend to decrease, with an average income loss over 3 years of about €12 000. Stratified analyses by sex and position confirmed the overall trend while indicating a strong effect modification. Regarding the switching from full-time to part-time employment, the results were never significant.

Conclusion: Income loss does not seem to be related to an increase in part-time contracts, but rather to survivors' reduced work capacity following the invasive treatments. Further research is needed to investigate the complex dynamics behind this association.

Keywords: employment; longitudinal studies; occupational health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Quality of Life
  • Survivors