Breast Cancer and Poverty

Breast Cancer: Economic Impact and Labour Force Re-entry

Report commissioned by the Canadian Breast Cancer Network

We may thing of breast cancer as a health condition, but it is also an economic condition. A diagnosis of breast cancer can have an enormous cost for women and men living with the disease and for their families as they have to take time off work for treatment and recovery.

The economic impact was felt to be significant with 80% of respondents stating they experienced a financial impact from the disease. Many respondents were unaware of the high cost of the disease until they began treatment. Like many Canadians, they had assumed that public health care would co er most of their costs. The economic reality came as a shock.

The report indicated respondents felt the Federal Government should improve Employment Insurance Benefits and provide more generous tax  breaks. It was noted that the average duration of treatment was 38 weeks and 2/3 of patients took 16 or more weeks off work. As Employment Insurance (EI) benefits last for a maximum of 15 weeks there is an average gap of 23 weeks without this coverage. As well, it was noted that the benefit was at 55% of salary level and judged by many to be woefully inadequate. In addition, the federal Employment Insurance program’s eligibility excludes those without enough accumulated work hours, the self-employed and homemakers (side note: next week a few notes about, creating a caring economics). The general population survey reveled 75% of Canadians support an increase in the duration of EI sickness benefits for persons living with breast and other cancers.

Respondents had mixed experiences of returning to work. 20% returned to work before they were ready because of financial pressure. Those who were able to make a gradual return to work were more likely to report a positive experience.

Almost half the respondents report a reduced physical ability to work after treatment and 1/5 were forced to quit due to work-related restrictions, side effects from treatments, fatigue and pain.

The health and psychosocial impact of financial burden was significant, with the most common experiences being stress and sleeplessness. Chemotherapy has an economic impact. Those who received chemo had the greatest drop in family income, took more time off work and were more likely to quit their jobs. “Chemo Brain” was identified as a challenge in returning to work.

People can survive breast cancer, but the loss of work or return to work at a lower salary can have long-term effects which creates challenges for those re-entering the workforce. The Canadian general population who took the survey indicates that Canadians would be receptive to measures which ease the financial burden of the disease.

The complete Canadian Breast Cancer network commissioned report “Breast Cancer: Economic Impact and labour Force Re-Entry” is available online at:

Another website that has some very good suggestions for help is:


About ritajasper

Rita Jasper strives to produce work that makes social impact or simply provokes thought to bring about awareness & different points of view.
This entry was posted in Poverty awareness and how issues can be addressed, Women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Breast Cancer and Poverty

  1. Pretty beneficial post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have quite enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I will be subscribing for ones feed and I hope you write-up once again soon.

  2. Aw, this was a extremely quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and actual effort to build a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never glimpse to obtain one thing done.

  3. ask says:

    This blog has definitely changed my perspective on this subject. Theres no way I wouldve thought about it this way if I hadnt come across your blog. All I was doing was cruising the web and I found your blog and all of a sudden my views have changed.

  4. Marcelino says:

    *It�s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you�re talking about! Thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s