Rehabilitation and return to work after cancer — instruments and practices

The ‘Rehabilitation and return to work after cancer — instruments and practices’ project provides an insight into the issues surrounding rehabilitation and return to work (RTW) after a cancer diagnosis and the problems encountered by workers affected by cancer and their employers. Furthermore, the report presents recommendations for instruments, practices, policies and interventions to successfully support the RTW of workers affected by cancer. Each year, an estimated 3.4 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Europe. About half of the people diagnosed with cancer are of working age. Although cancer occurrence differs from one region to another in Europe, the most frequent forms of cancer are breast, colorectal, prostate and lung cancer. These types of cancer were estimated to account for over half of the overall burden of cancer in Europe in 2012. The impact of cancer on a person’s daily life is immediate and striking. The diagnosis usually results in long periods of sickness absence because of medical treatments and functional restrictions. Although, in general, cancer management has improved over the past three decades and the overall number of people who survive cancer is increasing, many cancer survivors still face long-term symptoms and impairments after their treatment ends, such as fatigue. These symptoms and impairments can affect the workability of cancer survivors, making it more difficult to remain in or re-enter the job market. Research shows that most cancer survivors are able to remain in or return to work, but that overall the risk of unemployment among cancer survivors is 1.4 times higher than among people who have never been diagnosed with cancer. Optimising the rehabilitation and RTW of workers affected by cancer is therefore important to both improve the well-being of this vulnerable group and reduce the societal and financial impacts of cancer on European enterprises and society at large. Instruments, practices, policies and interventions aimed at the promotion of rehabilitation and RTW are clearly important. This ‘Rehabilitation and return to work after cancer — instruments and practices’ project reports on the emerging issue of rehabilitation and RTW after cancer and provides national examples of successful instruments, practices, policies and interventions to prevent long-term sickness absences and unemployment. The project is divided into the following main tasks:  a literature review on rehabilitation and RTW after a cancer diagnosis;  detailed descriptions of instruments, practices, policies and interventions to support rehabilitation and RTW after a cancer diagnosis;  company case studies;  qualitative research with experts and intermediaries;  support for the EU-OSHA stakeholder seminar.