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State-Level Estimates of Cancer-Related Absenteeism Costs

Tangka, Florence K. PhD; Trogdon, Justin G. PhD; Nwaise, Isaac PhD; Ekwueme, Donatus U. PhD; Guy, Gery P. Jr PhD; Orenstein, Diane PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 9 - p 1015–1020
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182a2a467
Original Articles

Background: Cancer is one of the top five most costly diseases in the United States and leads to substantial work loss. Nevertheless, limited state-level estimates of cancer absenteeism costs have been published.

Methods: In analyses of data from the 2004–2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau for 2008, and the 2009 Current Population Survey, we used regression modeling to estimate annual state-level absenteeism costs attributable to cancer from 2004 to 2008.

Results: We estimated that the state-level median number of days of absenteeism per year among employed cancer patients was 6.1 days and that annual state-level cancer absenteeism costs ranged from $14.9 million to $915.9 million (median = $115.9 million) across states in 2010 dollars. Absenteeism costs are approximately 6.5% of the costs of premature cancer mortality.

Conclusions: The results from this study suggest that lost productivity attributable to cancer is a substantial cost to employees and employers and contributes to estimates of the overall impact of cancer in a state population.

From the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (Drs Tangka, Ekwueme, and Guy), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga; RTI International (Dr Trogdon), Durham, NC; Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (Dr Nwaise), and Division of Community Health (Dr Orenstein), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga.

Address correspondence to: Florence K. Tangka, PhD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DCPC/EARB, 4770 Buford Highway NE, MS F-76, Atlanta, GA 30341-3717 (

Funding for this study was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Contract No. 200-2008-27958, Task Order 0015).

The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Authors Tangka, Trogdon, Nwaise, Ekwueme, Guy, and Orenstein have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine