Cancer stage, comorbidity, and socioeconomic differences in the effect of cancer on labour market participation: a danish register-based follow-up study

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PURPOSE: Socioeconomic inequality in return to work after cancer treatment and rehabilitation have been documented, but less is known about its causes. This paper investigates the role played by breast cancer stage at diagnosis and comorbidity.

METHODS: We used the comprehensive Danish Cancer Registry to follow 7372 women aged 30-60, who were in the labour force when diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000-06 and survived at least three years. Controls were 213,276 women without breast cancer. Inequalities in employment outlook were estimated as interaction effects in linear regression between educational attainment and disease on employment.

RESULTS: There is significant interaction between education and breast cancer, but it is only marginally affected by including stage and comorbidity in the regression models. Education, breast cancer stage, and comorbidity all have strong effects on later employment, and a considerable amount of the educational effect is mediated by comorbidity and pre-cancer labour market participation and income.

CONCLUSION: The result of the study is negative in the sense that the stronger effect of breast cancer on employment among low-educated compared to highly educated individuals is not explained by cancer stage or comorbidity. The fact that comorbidity has little impact on inequality may be due to a different social patterning of most comorbidity compared to breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0128621
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015

ID: 139964836