Working women who choose an aggressive treatment for breast cancer are likely to miss a significant amount of time before returning to the job.
That’s the conclusion of a study that focused on approximately 1,000 women in Georgia and Los Angeles who had to decide between various options for dealing with their cancer diagnosis.
More than 60 percent of the women, aged 20 to 79, chose a lumpectomy, a relatively less aggressive intervention.
One-third chose chemotherapy, while 16 percent had one breast removed (a unilateral mastectomy), the study authors said. Another 23 percent had both breasts removed (a bilateral mastectomy), which is considered the most aggressive option.
Nearly 85 percent of the women had been working full-time prior to their diagnosis. Those who chose a bilateral mastectomy with breast reconstruction were eight times more likely to miss over a month of work than those who underwent a lumpectomy, the study authors reported.
Missing a month of work had considerable financial consequences. Nearly one-third of women who were off for more than a month lost over $5,000 in income, the researchers said.
The study findings were reported in the Oct. 9 online edition of the journal Cancer.
“Prior studies have shown that most of the women who had bilateral mastectomy could have chosen lumpectomy but chose the more aggressive surgery, often out of a desire to improve peace of mind,” said study author Dr. Reshma Jagsi, of the University of Michigan.
“This study helps to quantify the impact of this decision on the employment and financial experiences of those women soon after diagnosis,” she explained in a journal news release.
“The impact of treatment on employment and finances is a consideration that women may wish to take into account when weighing the pros and cons of various surgical options they are considering,” Jagsi suggested.
To learn more about breast cancer treatment, visit the American Cancer Society.