While studies have analyzed what happens economically to adults who are diagnosed with cancer, they have tended to be small, retrospective, subjective, and not representative of large populations. To address these shortcomings, Anna Zajacova, PhD, of the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and her colleagues analyzed 1999 to 2009 data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a nationally representative, prospective population-based observational study with individual and family level economic information. The researchers used models to estimate the impact of cancer on employment, hours worked, individual income, and total family income.
After a cancer diagnosis, the probability of a patient being employed dropped by almost 10 percentage points and hours worked declined by up to 200 hours, or about five weeks of full-time work, in the first year. Annual labor market earnings dropped almost 40 percent within two years after a diagnosis, and they remained lower than before the diagnosis. Total family income declined by 20 percent, although it recovered within four years after the diagnosis. These effects were primarily driven by losses among male survivors; for women who were diagnosed with cancer, the losses were largely not statistically significant.
“Fifteen million American adults are cancer survivors, and American families need economic support while they are dealing with the rigors of cancer treatment,” said Dr. Zajacova. “Our paper suggests that families where an adult— especially a working-age male—is diagnosed with cancer suffer short-term and long-term declines in their economic well-being. We need to improve workplace and insurance safety nets so families can focus on dealing with the cancer treatment rather than deal with the financial and employment fallout.”
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Full citation: “Employment and income losses among cancer survivors: Estimates from a national longitudinal survey of American families.” Anna Zajacova, Jennifer Dowd, Robert Schoeni, and Robert Wallace. CANCER; Published Online: October 21, 2015 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.29510).
Author Contact:Jim Kearns, of the University of Wyoming’s communciations office, at [email protected] or +1 (307) 766-2670.
CANCER is a peer-reviewed publication of the American Cancer Society integrating scientific information from worldwide sources for all oncologic specialties. The objective of CANCER is to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of information among oncologic disciplines concerned with the etiology and course of human cancer. CANCER is published by Wiley and can be accessed online at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/cancer.
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