Veenstra, C. M., Wallner, L. P., Jagsi, R., Abrahamse, P., Griggs, J. J., Bradley, C. J., Hawley, S. T.
PURPOSE: Work loss is one of many personal costs for patients with cancer and their families. Many women with breast cancer face long-term job loss that stems from their diagnoses. However, little is known about the economic and employment outcomes of partners of women with breast cancer. METHODS: Women with nonmetastatic breast cancer identified by the Detroit and Los Angeles SEER registries between June 2005 and February 2007 were surveyed at both 9 months and 4 years after diagnosis. Partners were surveyed 4 years after patients’ diagnoses. Nonretired partners were asked about employment and financial consequences that stemmed from the patients’ breast cancer diagnoses and treatments. RESULTS: A total of 517 (67%) of 774 eligible partners completed the survey; 32% reported worsened financial status attributed to patients’ breast cancers. Two hundred forty nonretired partners worked during the year after the patients’ diagnoses; 90% were still working 4 years postdiagnosis. A total of 32% of partners decreased their work hours as a result of patients’ breast cancer diagnoses and treatments; 64% of partners reported that, as a result of patients’ breast cancer diagnoses and treatments, it was very/extremely important to keep working to keep health insurance. Overall, 51% of partners reported that it was very/extremely important to avoid changing jobs, because they were worried about loss of health insurance. CONCLUSION: Nearly one third of partners reported that their financial status was worse because of the patient’s breast cancer, although most remained working 4 years after a diagnosis. Partners may continue to work longer than desired to compensate for a loss of financial resources in the family.