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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3 comments

  1. Anne says:

    I am being treated for Stage 2A breast cancer right now — one more chemo treatment to go! My doctors have told me “we’re going for a cure here”, and I totally believe it WITHOUT QUESTION.
    Breast cancer is not automatically a death…

    • Susan says:

      Anne, I am sending you my best as you finish your chemotherapy. I remember finishing a TAC regimen two years ago (right before Thanksgiving.) It is amazing what progress has been made with breast cancer. I hope we both can look forward to being long term survivors. Take Care,
      Susan

  2. Debbie says:

    I think the focus should be on this quote “Patients with more employee benefits were less likely to miss work or leave altogether. Black patients were nearly two times more likely to have work affected than white patients.”
    The reasons women are opting for bilateral mastectomy vary. Did this study look at how much work is missed for follow up procedures, and women who had lumpectomies and then subsequent cancers.
    I am BRCA2+ and had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. My sister also positive did not. She is now Stage 4 BC.

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