A study looking at people with cancer and their ability to work

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer

Status:

Results

Phase:

Other

This study looked at people with cancer and how it affected their ability to work during and after treatment.

We know from past research that returning to, or continuing to work is straightforward for some people with cancer. But for others it can be challenging.

In this study, the researchers used questionnaires to collect information about how cancer affected people’s working life. They wanted to find out if people with cancer continued to work, took sick leave, left work or retired after diagnosis.

The aims of the study were to

  • Have a better understanding of how cancer affected people’s ability to work
  • Find ways to help people cope with cancer and work in the future

Summary of results

The study team found that following a diagnosis of cancer a person’s belief in their ability to return to work was important.

This study recruited 50 people with bowel cancer. The researchers asked them to complete a questionnaire

  • After surgery or before starting treatment
  • 3 months later
  • 6 months later

They also asked 10 of these people to keep a diary for 6 months.

The researchers found that over time there were positive changes to people’s beliefs in how they coped with cancer and their ability to return to work. Different things affected this belief at different times. The type of treatment they had had was the strongest factor in whether they had returned to work 6 months later.

Findings from the diaries showed that there was a difference between people’s intention and ability to return to work. The diaries also showed a big difference in the advice and guidance people received about their ability to work during and after treatment.

The study team also interviewed 18 healthcare professionals.

They found that the type of guidance and advice given varied due to the healthcare professional’s experience, knowledge and time available. The healthcare professionals said that the barriers to giving more suitable advice included a lack of knowledge and a lack of evidence about people returning to work during and after cancer treatment. The majority also stated that this was a part of care that fell short and required the combined effort of all the healthcare team (multi disciplinary team Open a glossary item) to deal with it properly.

The study team concluded that at different times, different things affected people’s desire and ability to return to work. Although the person’s belief in their ability to return to work was important it was not likely to be the only thing that mattered.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) but may not have been published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Manpreet Bains

Supported by

Loughborough University

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle - 733

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Alan took part in a clinical trial for bowel cancer patients

A picture of ALan

“I think it’s essential that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

Last reviewed:

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