Culture of ignorance around breast cancer

Nov. 8, 2011 at 11:03 AM
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UXBRIDGE, England, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Many women with breast cancer say going back to work is a welcome distraction, many need the money and some find hostile employers, a British researcher says.

Dr. Maggi Banning of Brunel University in Uxbridge, England, reviewed the employment experiences of nearly 1,200 women with breast cancer from United States, Canada, Britain, Sweden and Denmark from 1991 to 2010 and found a the culture of ignorance exists within some employers when it comes to the capabilities of women affected by breast cancer.

Studies found examples of supportive employers and colleagues, but this was not always the case. However, women in Europe appeared to have a more supportive work environment than those in the United States and Canada, Banning found.

Some women took different positions or were able to reduce their working hours so that they could receive treatment and recover from side effects, but in some cases, work modifications were refused and employers were openly hostile, insisting that they should resign from their jobs or retire, Banning said.

In addition, a number of employers judged women by their physical appearance, not knowing up to one-quarter of women experience residual fatigue for many months after treatment, Banning explained.

The findings are published in the European Journal of Cancer Care.

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