It is no surprise to most that the rapidly shifting influx and loss of jobs throughout the U.S. and the world is changing the game of how people endure their careers. People who have held a specific job for 10 years or more have to face the reality of learning new tips and tricks of the digital world, just to stay relevant. But a new study out of the University of Michigan has unveiled some data on breast cancer survivors, data that few people outside of the families of the survivors themselves would have expected. Survivors of breast cancer by way of chemotherapy usually experience a decrease in their likelihood of employment in the future, with a number of job capabilities being affected by the chemotherapy.
While there are currently a variety of ways that different types of cancer can be treated, chemotherapy has a broad appeal for its ways of attacking tumors and being able to minimize them. Most cancer patients opt for this method without necessarily being informed of all of its side effects. This can be highly detrimental at times, because patients can end up experiencing symptoms from the treatment that are almost equally harmful to their health as the cancer that they are working so hard to remove.
In the study, Dr. Reshma Jagsi and her colleagues talked with about 1000 women between 2005 and 2011 who were interviewed twice about their condition with breast cancer. Some had chosen to receive chemotherapy once diagnosed, others had not. Of those that did elect for chemotherapy, nearly 40 percent were not working when interviewed in the second round, four years after their first interview.
Most of the time, the women were not willingly giving up their jobs, or refusing to look for employment after treatment had run its course. The primary scenarios with these situations was that the women were no longer able to perform their jobs at the same efficiency or skill level that they used to, or had their job taken away from them because they could not commit to the same level of work while being treated.
Breast cancer survivors who were administered chemotherapy spoke on the fact that often times, they would experience neuropathy, a type of nerve-ending tingling or pain in hands and feet. Other women would report that they had a major loss of energy and strength, a lack of the ability to focus or think clearly, and early exhaustion. The information from this study is still emerging and being addressed within hospitals and treatment centers. But once clinicians are more comprehensive of the fact that chemotherapy may not affect all breast cancer patients for the better, the survivors can look forward to greater freedom in the future with their jobs.
It is very likely that breast cancer patients who do not require chemotherapy from a doctor’s order will not elect for it. This type of cancer treatment will also hopefully be phased out over time, as many more holistic methods of treatment are continuing to gain popularity and traction throughout the world. Often times, patients will opt for a more naturalized approach to treating their cancer because this almost always means it is cheaper.
Jack Andraka, a now 17-year-old from Maryland, rocketed to the news and YouTube limelight in 2012, when at 15 years old, he invented a filter paper test that is cheaper, faster and easier in diagnosing cancer than essentially all of the methods that had been used up until his invention. Andraka has successfully patented his test and is in ongoing conversations with various companies about developing the test into a format that would be more readily available to the people in need.
With studies and inventions like this, the hope for the future that cancer patients have is becoming brighter and brighter every year. Dr. Jagsi indicated in her notes and comments on her study that it is critical for more medical professionals and doctors to design techniques and equipment that will assist in the confirmation of whether or not the type of cancer a patient has requires chemotherapy.
With chemotherapy being used less frequently in the future, it means that methods of administering it will become more precise and individually tailored to patients. Even though chemotherapy is still being used regularly, studies like this one are putting more information in the hands of breast cancer survivors – information that can enable future cancer patients to make the best choices affecting their jobs and their futures.
Opinion By Brad Johnson