Double Mastectomy Linked to More Work Absences for Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Double Mastectomy Linked to More Work Absences for Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer
Double mastectomy, an aggressive surgical procedure to remove both breasts, increases the chances that early stage breast cancer patients will miss work for longer periods or stop working entirely, a new study found. However, the treatment is not linked to better survival rates, prompting researchers to suggest that employment and other quality of life factors should be considered by doctors and patients when choosing the best surgical approach. The study titled, “Treatment decisions and employment of breast cancer patients: Results of a population-based survey,” was published in the journal Cancer. A cancer diagnosis has a severe impact on a person’s life, affecting not only their health, but also their social functioning and emotional well-being. For many patients, employment is not only a source of income, but also a way to give life meaning, to provide a welcome distraction, and to improve quality of life. Thus, it is important that treatments be evaluated not only for their effectiveness, but also for the impact they have on a patient’s quality of life. Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center evaluated how surgical treatment impacted the employment experiences of women with early-stage breast cancer. The team surveyed 1,006 women, ages 20 to 79, who were diagnosed from 2014-2015 and employed at the time. The majority (84%) were working full-time. Most patients (62%) had undergone a breast-conserving surgery called lumpectomy that only removes the tumor and surrounding tissue. An additional 16% underwent unilateral mastectomy — the
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