Impact of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment on work-related life and factors affecting them

Eunmi Ahn, Juhee Cho, Dong Wook Shin, Byeong Woo Park, Sei Hyun Ahn, Dong Young Noh, Seok Jin Nam, Eun Sook Lee, Young Ho Yun

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119 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the impacts of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment on employment status and the ability to perform occupational and housekeeping tasks. We performed a cross-sectional study to compare Korean breast cancer survivors (n = 1,594) who had been working before cancer diagnosis with a group of 20 to 60-year-old women from the general Korean population (n = 415). Employment decreased from 47.6% to 33.2% after cancer treatment. It was significantly smaller relative to the general population (52.1%) [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.68; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.35-2.11). There was an inverse association between employment and low levels of education, low household income, multiple comorbidities, disease stage, and mastectomy. In addition, women who lived with a spouse were more likely to quit working after treatment compared to women who had no spouse. Fatigue and exhaustion were the most frequent difficulties encountered during occupational work (by 46.8% of cancer survivors) and housework (64.6%). Our findings suggest that breast cancer has a greater impact on employment among Korean women than among women in previously studied Western populations. Our data suggest that sociocultural factors, as well as certain clinical characteristics, influence the decisions of Korean women to return or to not return to work after surviving breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-616
Number of pages8
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Aug

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This work was supported by National Cancer Center Grant 04101502 and partially by National Cancer Center Grant 0710421-2.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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