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​​Cancer and Work   ​​   |   Evidence-based Overviews ​​ |   Prevention or Disease Remission |   Associated Conditions ​​ |   Related WWDPI Webinars |   Work Accommodation |   Return to Work ​​ |   Videos and Podcasts |   Cancer Organizations ​​ |   British Columbia Resources ​​ |   Other Resources   

​Cancer and Work   ​​


Cancer is a common health condition facing workers, their families and friends. With the life prevalence of cancer being 50%, and 25% dying from cancer, most workers will be touched directly or a close relationship (family, colleague or friend). With advancements in cancer treatment many people with cancer or have survived cancer are able to remain at work or return after treatment. The rate of return after 4 years is 85% with most survivors returning in the first year. There is a growing body of research that employers who provide workers with work accommodations and offer supportive working environments, can help cancer survivors lead productive working lives.

The experience of cancer and how it affects work can be very individual, influenced by the type of cancer, extent of cancer, treatment, the employee's overall physical, cognitive and emotional health, social support and resources available to them. Therefore, some survivors may struggle with returning or staying at work or finding new jobs while others may have no problem. Some positive workplace features that have been helpful to cancer survivors' return to work and employment are supportive work environments, work accommodations and good relationships with employers. (Extracted from Cancer and Work )​​

Infographics Credit: Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2018. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2018. Available at: . Accessed: August 7, 2018 ​​​

Evidence-Based Overviews  ​​​​​​​​​​​​

A Systematic Review on the Clustering and Co-Occurrence of Multiple Risk Behaviours
Eliminating Occupational Cancer
Night-Shift Work Increases Morbidity of Breast Cancer and All-Cause Mortality: A Meta-Analysis of 16 Prospective Cohort Studies.
The Global Burden of Occupational Disease - Article


Cancer risks in the workplace can arise from greater exposures to health hazards associated with different types of work. Both workplaces and workers can prevent or control exposures through taking pro-active measures. There is a growing movement towards "zero tolerance to controllable exposures" To take preventive action one needs to consider types of exposures – for instance workers in construction, agriculture, and fishing have greater sun exposure. Manufacturing, mining, firefighters can have greater potential exposure to fossil fuels (such as mineral oils, coal products, benzene, and diesel engine exhaust), asbestos, silica, and solvents. Those involved in foam, paint spray, and car shops have potential exposures to broad range of chemicals (such as isocyanates, TDIs). Many jurisdictions have banned smoking in public and private sectors where workers could be exposed to second hand smoke. At the individual and workplace levels supportive policies can target modifiable risk factors include alcohol abuse programs, reduction in long periods of sedentary work, obesity reduction programs, physical activity initiatives, sun exposure reduction and prevention initiatives, in addition to addressing exposures to chemicals, air pollution, radon gas, etc.​​​​

Adherence To Mediterranean Diet And Risk Of Cancer: An Updated Systematic Review And Meta‐Analysis Of Observational Studies Cancer Medicine
Causes and Prevention Research National Cancer Institute
Priority Setting for Occupational Cancer (in Canada) CAREX Canada

​Associated Conditions

Over 40% of people with cancer have at least one other chronic condition recorded, and 15% have two or more. The most common chronic conditions including cardiovascular illness, obesity and metabolic illness, mental health problems, and musculoskeletal conditions. 

The Impact of Comorbidity on Cancer and its Treatment ​ 

This 2016 systematic review provides an overview of what is known about comorbidity and cancer and discusses many reasons why cancer may co‐occur with chronic conditions. The coexistence of cancer and other chronic conditions suggests that workplaces should consider comprehensive programs supporting workers with chronic conditions rather than a "single‐disease" approach.​

Related WWDPI Webinars​

Cancer and Work [Canada] – Employers
Cancer Impacts in the WorkplaceCancer Council Australia
Cancer in the Workplace Tip Sheets American Cancer Society
Interventions To Enhance Return-To-Work For Cancer Patients Cochrane Research
Working After Cancer – Top Tips for Employers Lymphoma Action
Cancer in the WorkplaceMacmillan Cancer Support
How Work Kept Me Going During My Cancer TreatmentTED Talk
No Time to Lose: Working Together to Beat Occupational CancerThe Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)
Return to Work After Cancer WebinarThe Institution of Occupational Safety and Health
Cancer Impacts in the Workplace Cancer Council
Interventions To Enhance Return-To-Work For Cancer Patients Cochrane Research
American Cancer Society American Cancer Society
Australian Cancer Research Foundation Australian Cancer Research Foundation
BC Cancer Agency’s Provincial Vocational Rehabilitation ProgramBC Cancer Agency’s Provincial Vocational Rehabilitation Program
Canadian Cancer Society Canadian Cancer Society
Cancer and Work (Canada)Cancer and Work (Canada)
Cancer AustraliaCancer Australia
Cancer DictionaryCancer Council Victoria
CancerNetThe National Cancer Institute
Institute of Cancer Research (UK) Institute of Cancer Research (UK)
International Union Against CancerInternational Union Against Cancer
National Cancer Control InitiativeAustralian Government
OncoLinkUniversity of Pennsylvania Cancer Center
Returning to Work Online Sessions Wellspring

Last Modified: 10/7/2019 1:57 PM