Work is central to many people’s lives. It provides financial benefits to support individuals and their families, it is central to many individual’s social lives and it can play an important role in promoting one’s physical and mental health. For many employment is a defining characteristic of who they are.

Following a diagnosis of cancer most people are forced to re-evaluate their work circumstances. Some are able to continue employment largely uninterrupted. Others are forced or choose to cease work permanently as a result of the effects of the disease or as a result of a re-evaluation of their lives following the diagnosis. Some are forced to reduce or cease their work for physical and psychological reasons during the intense period of treatment following the diagnosis.

A team of researchers in United States led by Dr Michael Feuerstein have developed a model of work in cancer survivors which summarises many issues that may impact on work after cancer. The model is reproduced here with permission from Feuerstein M, Todd BL, Moskowitz MC, Bruns GL, Stoler MR, Nassif T, et al. Work in cancer survivors: a model for practice and research. Journal of cancer survivorship : research and practice. 2010;4(4):415-37.


An interesting blog post summarises some of the issues around the return to work after cancer in  Why is cancer different?

Want to know more?  Check out the following resources from around the world:


From Australia

Cancer, Work and You booklet from the Cancer Council New South Wales.  This 56 page downloadable booklet covers issues like talking to employer and colleagues, making decisions about work, leave or job change, with an excellent section for people who are self-employed, coping with side effects and issues of work for carers.  The Cancer Council New South Wales also host an excellent web based resource on Work and cancer with links to information for employees, employers and an excellent webinar library on work issues.

Working with Cancer from the Cancer Council Australia. This six part resource covers basic facts about work after cancer, impact in the workplace, tips for employers and employees and list of support services.

The Cancer Council SA has a Cancer and work web resource with excellent tips on talking to the health team, colleagues and employers about cancer and work.

The Cancer Council Victoria offers information on return to work on their Returning to work after cancer page including a pro bono workplace advisory service.


From USA

An excellent resource from US on  Cancer and Careers  offers information to patients and health care professionals including legal information relevant to United States. The American Cancer Society has a Working During Cancer Treatment page with a range of resources. The American Society of Clinical Oncology service has a resource called Going Back to Work after Cancer with tips on planning return to work, legal advice and ideas on how to talk to coworkers. 


From UK

A McMillan Cancer Support resource Going back to work offers advice on return to work planning and financial considerations for patients in United Kingdom.  McMillan also host an excellent page on policy, research about work and cancer.

Working with cancer, a UK social enterprise organization offers coaching and advice on return to work for people with cancer and organisations.

Feel free to browse the following pages on this website for more information: