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Study finds women prefer to work through breast cancer treatment

1.7 million cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year, and as Dr. Julia Perkins Smith notes, each diagnosis comes with “complicated treatment decisions as well as life decisions, including whether to work while undergoing treatment.” While one might assume that patients with breast cancer would focus on their treatment and recovery at the expense of making it into the office, a new survey from Cancer and Careers, Pfizer Inc. and Harris Poll shows the vast majority of women prefer to continue working while they undergo treatment.The top reason for continuing to work was income, but many respondents also cited “wanting to feel productive (41%), for personal fulfillment (38%) and a desire to feel normal (29%).” These findings are supported by a recent white paper written by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. The paper concluded that employers needed “better education and resources” to accommodate patients and survivors, an observation the survey found as well. While 91% of employers said their organization supported employees with “serious health conditions such as breast cancer,” only 22% of women were aware of job modifications available at their job.