Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Quality Care 2019: Impact of Breast Cancer on Key Support Person’s Employment

By: Sarah Campen, PharmD
Posted: Monday, September 9, 2019

Job loss is an unfortunate reality for many women receiving treatment for breast cancer. According to Christine M. Veenstra, MD, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues, negative employment impacts extend to the patient’s key decision support person as well. Their findings were presented at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Quality Care Symposium (Abstract 176) in San Diego.

Patients with breast cancer (n = 2,502) and their key decision support person (n = 1,234) were surveyed separately about employment impacts of the patient’s breast cancer. Among decision support persons, 43% were partners and 57% were nonpartners—daughters, other family members, or friends, for example.

At the time of the patient’s diagnosis, 67% of support persons were employed. Among them, 11% were no longer employed at survey completion. More than one-third (39%) missed more than 30 days of work, and nonpartner decision support persons were as likely as partners to lose their job or miss work because of the patient’s cancer.

As for the patients with breast cancer, 65% of patients were employed at diagnosis. Patients with a nonpartner support person were more likely to lose their job compared with patients with a support person who was a partner (39% vs. 24%) or miss more than 30 days of work (55% vs. 45%). For all patients, having an employed decision support person at diagnosis and having an employed support person who stays employed were associated with improved patient quality of life.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at

By continuing to browse this site you permit us and our partners to place identification cookies on your browser and agree to our use of cookies to identify you for marketing. Read our Privacy Policy to learn more.