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Sickness absence among cancer patients in the pre-diagnostic and the post-diagnostic phases of five common forms of cancer

Sickness absence among cancer patients in the pre-diagnostic and the post-diagnostic phases of five common forms of cancer,10.1007/s00520-011-1142-8,S

Sickness absence among cancer patients in the pre-diagnostic and the post-diagnostic phases of five common forms of cancer  
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Purpose  The purpose of this study was to observe sickness absence before and after the cancer diagnosis among cancer patients with five common forms of cancer. Methods  Using cohort data, we observed sick leave in the pre- and post-diagnostic phase among patients with colon, rectal, breast, prostate, or lung cancer (n = 2,738). We also identified reference subjects without cancer (total n = 12,246) who were individually matched for age and gender for each specific cancer cohort in order to compare sickness absence between patients with a specific form of cancer and the background population without cancer. Results  Lung cancer patients had the highest increase in sick days both pre- and post-diagnosis and prostate cancer patients had the lowest increase. Irrespective of the form of cancer, cancer patients had significantly more sick days in the post-diagnostic phase compared to their reference subjects, ranging from 5 (prostate cancer) to 12 times the amount of sick days (colon and lung cancer). One year post-diagnosis, less than half of the cancer patients were on sick leave, except for lung cancer patients where 63% were still on sick leave. Conclusion  Sick leave among cancer patients seems related not only to the cancer diagnosis and its treatment but also to the prodromal illness in the pre-diagnostic phase, especially for forms of cancer with heavier symptom burden such as colon and lung cancer. Although cancer results in substantial increase in sick leave, it is important to acknowledge that a major part of cancer patients return to work within 1 year after the cancer diagnosis.
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