Supporting employees after a cancer diagnosis

Of the 150,000 Australians are diagnosed with cancer every year, many workers will live and work with cancer

New data published by Cancer Australia throws light on how few cancer survivors return to work after treatment.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic Australians have reduced their uptake of common cancer diagnostic and treatment services. Compared to the same period last year, the use of common cancer services in the March to May 2020 period decreased markedly, between 18% and 57%.

What does this mean?

Delays in diagnosis and treatment. “Our biggest concern is that any potential delays in cancer investigations may lead to more advanced stages of cancer at diagnosis and poorer patient outcomes”, says Professor Dorothy Keefe, CEO, Cancer Australia.

What can workplaces do?

Two-thirds of employees continue to work whilst undergoing cancer treatment, as do 94% of their carers.

However, after treatment, Australian workers aged 45-64 are 3.66 times more likely to leave work for good.

“Where cancer patients can continue to work, it is so beneficial for leaders and employees to regularly and openly talk about how it is going, and plan and adapt accordingly’, according to Samantha Breust, GM, Konekt Workcare.

Communication, planning and flexibility are key. Leaders should work closely with their employee to design an approach to work that supports their recovery pathway, and helps both parties maintain a sense of productivity and purpose.

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