Cancer Causes Employment Disruption and Financial Distress Among Young Women

Women who were diagnosed with cancer as adolescents or young adults are especially vulnerable to the financial impacts of the disease, according to the findings of a new study published early online in the journal CANCER.

Researchers surveyed 1,328 young women in North Carolina and California who were diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15 to 39 years and were employed at the time of their cancer diagnosis. According to the researchers, surveys were conducted at an average of seven years post-diagnosis, and questions in the survey evaluated the link between cancer diagnosis and treatment with a broad range of survivor topics. assessed the impact of one’s cancer diagnosis and treatment in relation to a broad range of survivorship topics.

According to the results, 32% of women experienced employment disruption, meaning that they stopped working or worked fewer hours following their cancer diagnosis. Moreover, the researchers found that 27% of women reported that their cancer treatment caused them to have to borrow money, go into debt, or file for bankruptcy because of their cancer treatment; and women with disrupted employment had a 17% higher chance of reporting this than women without disrupted employment. Furthermore, half of the women surveyed reported psychological distress from having to pay large medical bills related to their cancer treatment, and this trend was 8% more prevalent among with women with disrupted employment.

“Our study addresses the burden of employment disruption and financial hardship among young women with cancer–a group who may be at particular risk for poor financial outcomes after cancer given their age and gender,” said Clare Meernik, MPH, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill via a press release. “Our findings highlight the need for effective interventions to promote job maintenance and transition back to the workforce after cancer treatment, as well as increased workplace accommodations and benefits, to improve cancer outcomes for young women.”