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Management of work through the seasons of cancer survivorship

Duijts, Saskia F.A.a,b

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: March 2018 - Volume 12 - Issue 1 - p 80–85
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000320

Purpose of review Survival from cancer has expanded enormously over the past decades. It is estimated that 40–50% of all cancer survivors are of working age at time of diagnosis and thus potentially part of the labor force. The seasons of survivorship can be used as a steppingstone to describe issues regarding employability survivors are dealing with.

Recent findings The acute survival stage begins at the point of diagnosis. Disclosure of diagnosis, and flexibility of both employers and (occupational) healthcare professionals are important factors in this stage. Extended survival starts when the survivor has completed the basic course of treatment. Survivors become aware that the old normality at work will be difficult to achieve. Problems like fear of recurrence, cognitive, and physical limitations might intensify during this stage and affect work ability. Permanent survival can be called long-term remission. Prospective studies on work-related outcomes and work-related interventions in this stage are rare.

Summary It is important to improve our understanding of the seasons of survival and to explore concepts, such as employability, against the background of these seasons. This perspective may help both survivors and (occupational) healthcare professionals to develop better strategies for dealing with the difficult life event cancer represents in each specific stage.

aDepartment of Public and Occupational Health, VU University Medical Center, EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research

bDivision of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Correspondence to Saskia F.A. Duijts, PhD, Department of Public and Occupational Health, VU University Medical Center, Van der Boechorststraat 7 – C573, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 20 444 1783; fax: +31 20 444 8387; e-mail:

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