Workplace Accommodations Would Ease the Burden for Patients With Cancer

Rachel Narozniak
Published: Thursday, Sep 26, 2019
Victoria Blinder, MD, MSc, of the Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Victoria Blinder, MD, MSc

Women with breast cancer who have lower incomes and are members of minority populations are less likely to return to work following surgery and chemotherapy, and oncologists need to help them obtain workplace accommodations to ease their return to employment, said medical oncologist Victoria Blinder, MD, MSc, of the Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Workplace accommodations are necessary because financial toxicity during treatment may impair a patient’s ability to successfully fight cancer and retain employment over the long term, Blinder said in a recent presentation at the 2019 American Society of Hematology Oncology Annual Meeting (Figure1-3).

“If you heard that there was an epidemiologic risk factor that almost doubled your risk of dying from cancer, everyone would run screaming. But nobody is running and screaming while talking about financial toxicity,” Blinder said.

Women with breast cancer who are nonwhite, come from low-income households, and work in the underground economy are less likely to have access to work accommodations such as sick leave and disability benefits during their treatment, or even time off for a medical appointment, translating to an increased risk of job loss. A lack of work accommodations can hinder patients’ subsequent reentry to the workforce following time off for treatment, Blinder said.

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