Management of work through the seasons of cancer survivorship

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Purpose of review

Survival from cancer has expanded enormously over the past decades. It is estimated that 40–50% of all cancer survivors are of working age at time of diagnosis and thus potentially part of the labor force. The seasons of survivorship can be used as a steppingstone to describe issues regarding employability survivors are dealing with.

Recent findings

The acute survival stage begins at the point of diagnosis. Disclosure of diagnosis, and flexibility of both employers and (occupational) healthcare professionals are important factors in this stage. Extended survival starts when the survivor has completed the basic course of treatment. Survivors become aware that the old normality at work will be difficult to achieve. Problems like fear of recurrence, cognitive, and physical limitations might intensify during this stage and affect work ability. Permanent survival can be called long-term remission. Prospective studies on work-related outcomes and work-related interventions in this stage are rare.


It is important to improve our understanding of the seasons of survival and to explore concepts, such as employability, against the background of these seasons. This perspective may help both survivors and (occupational) healthcare professionals to develop better strategies for dealing with the difficult life event cancer represents in each specific stage.

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