Hot flashes, fatigue, treatment exposures and work productivity in breast cancer survivors

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While fatigue has been associated with work limitations the combined influence of specific diagnosis and treatment exposures based on medical records on work limitations in breast cancer survivors is currently unknown. Since symptom burden and perceived health can interfere with work, the present study investigated the relationship among these variables and work outcomes.


Medical chart abstraction, demographic measures, SF 36, the Work Limitations Questionnaire (WLQ) and measures of symptom burden, including hot flushes were obtained in 83 breast cancer survivors a mean of three years post treatment. OLS and poisson regression were used to determine the relationship of these factors to work productivity and work absences.


Breast cancer survivors reported a mean reduction in productivity of 3.1% below the healthy worker norm. This amounts to a loss of 2.48 hours of work over two weeks of full time employment. Stages 1 and 2 were related to work limitations. After controlling for stage, fatigue and hot flashes were each associated with work performance losses of 1.6% (p = 0.05) and 2.2% (p < 0.001), respectively. Protective factors included marriage and greater personal earned income.


Fatigue and hot flashes are important factors related to work productivity in breast cancer survivors even at three years post treatment.

Implications for survivors

Therapy for hot flashes should be given serious consideration in breast cancer survivors who are experiencing work limitations.



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