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Study: More Than One-Third Of Patients With Metastatic Cancer Continue to Work

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --  A new study has found that more than one-third of patients whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body continue working.

A team led by Amye Tevaarwerk, MD, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, analyzed the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group's "Symptom Outcomes and Practice Patterns (SOAPP)" study to determine which factors are associated with employment changes among patients with metastatic cancer.

The analysis, published in the journal Cancer, indicates 35% of the 668 patients studied continued to work either full or part-time.

Researchers said 45% of those stopped working and 58% reported some change in employment status because of their illness.

Surprisingly, the type of cancer, treatment, and time since they were diagnosed did not seem to affect employment; the severity of symptoms, however, did.

Authors found that improved survival for patients with metastatic cancer highlights the importance of employment.

"For patients with metastatic cancer, a great deal of attention is focused on the events surrounding initial diagnosis of disease and the issues surrounding the end-of-life; however, between cancer recurrence and the end-of-life, these patients are living their lives day-to-day and there are a number of unique survivorship issues during this time that have been overlooked by researchers," said Dr. Tevaarwerk.

Researchers concluded that because many metastatic cancer patients want to keep working, it's an important to begin developing tools to better support them.

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