TUESDAY, Feb. 27, 2018 -- Women who leave the workforce after a breast cancer diagnosis are likely to be black or to have public health insurance or none at all, a new study finds.
In fact, the study found that black women were four times more likely to leave the workforce than were white women. And those with no insurance or public insurance were nearly five times more likely to leave the workforce than were those with private health insurance.
Women who reported being fatigued because of their cancer also were more likely to leave their jobs.
The study included 723 women, ages 40 to 64, about half of whom had early stage breast cancer.
Within two years of becoming cancer-free, black women were more likely than whites to return to a lesser job, the study found.
The researchers did not examine why women with early stage breast cancer left the workforce, but said they plan a follow-up study to get those answers.
They did note, though, that working after a breast cancer diagnosis could be helpful in regaining a sense of normalcy.
"In addition to the added benefit of employer-sponsored health insurance, paid employment has the potential to mitigate the financial stresses associated with cancer," lead author Christine Ekenga wrote in the study. She's an assistant professor in public health at Washington University in St. Louis.
"Moreover, for women with breast cancer, employment could play a significant role in post-diagnostic health," Ekenga wrote. "Health benefits associated with employment include an increased sense of purpose, higher self-esteem and a stronger sense of social support from others, all of which have been associated with improved quality of life."
The study was published this month in the journal Cancer.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on breast cancer.
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