Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp 1163–1171 | Cite as

A study of work changes due to cancer in tumor-free primary-treated cancer patients. A NOCWO study

  • Sævar Berg Gudbergsson
  • Sophie D. Fosså
  • Alv A. Dahl
Original Article


Goals of work

The goal of this study is to explore the characteristics of tumor-free cancer survivors (CSs) who after their primary treatment were still working but made work changes due to cancer and compare them to survivors who did not.

Patients and methods

The sample consisted of 431 CSs (219 females with breast cancer, 212 males with testicular (N = 150) or prostate cancer (N = 62)) diagnosed 2–6 years prior to the study. All CSs had good prognosis and had returned to work after primary treatment. All CSs filled in a mailed questionnaire covering demography, morbidity, life style, mental distress, fatigue, quality of life and job strain.


Seventy-two CSs (17%) had made work changes due to cancer during the observation period, and 359 (83%) had not. Among CSs who made work changes, significantly more were females; they showed significantly poorer physical and mental work ability, worked fewer hours per week, reported more comorbidity, and had lower physical and mental quality of life and more neuroticism, compared to the nonchange group. Work changes were moderately correlated with current work ability.


The majority of CSs did not report any work changes due to cancer during the 2–6-year observation period, which is an encouraging finding. A minority had done work changes, and this group consisted mainly of women and was also characterized by poorer physical and mental quality of life and poorer mental work ability due to cancer. The issue of work changes and work ability should be considered in the follow-up of cancer survivors.


Cancer Oncology Work situation Cancer survivors Work change 



The Norwegian Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation and the Nordic Cancer Union sponsored this study (Grant no H0-5010/002).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sævar Berg Gudbergsson
    • 1
  • Sophie D. Fosså
    • 1
  • Alv A. Dahl
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Cancer ResearchThe Norwegian Radium Hospital, University of Oslo: Faculty of MedicineOsloNorway

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