Numbers have dipped for those on long-term disability
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/09/2012 -- San Francisco, CA- More than twice the number of breast cancer survivors are returning to work after short-term disability leave.
That’s according to data released by Unum, the nation’s leading provider of workplace disability benefits.
The number of people on short-term disability leave due to breast cancer returning to work grew from 28.8 percent in 2001 to 64 percent in 2009. These figures are likely the result of improved treatments and outcomes for those battling the disease, according to Cheryl Greaney, vice president of Medical Operations for Unum.
"The people behind these numbers are facing some of the most difficult times in their lives, and the ability to return to work offers a sense of normalcy and routine that can be truly beneficial," she said.
"Increases in early detection coupled with newer approaches have reduced severity of treatment for many early stage breast cancers. Many of the newer chemotherapy agents are more targeted, although not free from side effects, and can be easier to tolerate than agents typically used 5 to 10 years ago," Greaney said.
Those on long-term disability leave owing to breast cancer are not experiencing the same trend, however. Those number climbed from 47 percent in 2001 to 54.8 percent in 2006 then dipped to 50.1 percent in 2009, according to Unum.
"The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but this trend may be influenced by some of the same factors that have improved success in returning to work for people on short term disability,"
Greaney said. "As treatments become more effective and outcomes improve for many with earlier stage disease, the pool of people who eventually move to long term disability may necessarily be those who have later stage cancer and as a result require more aggressive, debilitating treatments."
Unum offers employers advice on how to support workers through cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as how to support those employees in successfully returning to the workplace.
"Breast Cancer Awareness Month sheds important light on this battle that hundreds of thousands of people wage each year," Greaney said. "As a leading provider of employee benefits, we see every day the difference disability and critical illness coverage can make in supporting people through this fight."
The leading cause of Unum long-term disability claims continues to be cancer, accounting for about 15 percent of claims annually. Breast cancer is the cause for about 22 percent of long-term disability cancer claims.
Nearly 7 percent of Unum short-term disability claims are a result of cancer, with breast cancer being the leading type at 17 percent.
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