The petitioners call for more rights to work for people living with breast cancer


Brussels, Belgium: The initiators urge Members of the EU to make it easier for people with advanced breast cancer to return to work and be adequately supported through flexible working arrangements.

At an event in the European Parliament today (Wednesday) hosted by MEP Lieve Wierinck, members of the Advanced Global Breast Cancer Alliance (ABC) emphasized policymakers that the financial burden of breast cancer involves not only direct treatment costs but also indirect costs because of the loss of productivity, when people living with advanced diseases who are able and willing to continue working can not because of their lack of understanding about their illness or direct or indirect discrimination.

President of the World Association ABC, dr. Fatima Cardoso, from the Champalimaud Clinic in Lisbon, Portugal, said: "Most people with breast cancer are in the most economically productive years of their lives: 40, 50 and 60 years of age. The ability to work is bad for them, not only financially, but also emotional and psychological, as well as for society. Now, there are many studies that show that indirect costs of cancer are actually greater than direct if there is a lack of productivity. If these people can continue to work and be productive, they will be much better for society as a whole. "

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide, affecting mostly women, but also some men. More than two million new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2018 and nearly 630,000 people will die due to almost all of the advanced or metastatic cancer of the disease that has spread to other parts of the body. About 6.8 million people have either survived breast cancer or currently live with advanced disease, many of which are capable and willing to work.

"It is difficult or impossible for these people to continue to work, causing a huge loss of economic productivity for society," said Dr. Cardoso.

Barbara Wilson, head of the UK-based Cancer Disease Worker, who helps people affected by cancer recurrence, said: "Even for people living with long-term side effects of treatment, it's absolutely free to continue working if they exist the appropriate strategies for their support. It's not about getting people back to work, but if someone returns, in most cases it can be successfully managed.

"In order to achieve this, employers need to understand cancer, they need to communicate effectively with cancer-affected workers, and have to implement flexible working policies during and after treatment, including providing individual support to those who need it in the form of often employers, that you should not work and encourage you to leave or think they will be fine for a few weeks after treatment and wonder why you are not "normal" as soon as possible. None of these assumptions is helpful, sometimes even sometimes people sometimes work , almost to the time when they die, depending on the cancer and the type of work they do. "

Wilson and Karen Benn, deputy chairman of the Europa Donna Board, called on all employers to provide training to improve understanding of cancer and how to communicate with their employees, as well as policies that support flexible work. In addition, governments across Europe and throughout the world should establish legislation that would prevent employers from discriminating against cancer patients.

"At present, some countries have such legislation, while many others do not," said Mrs Wilson. "Workplace adjustments often cost small amounts compared to the cost of losing a good employee and the cost of recruiting new people."

Benn said: "It's crucial that people living with advanced breast cancer are not discriminated against in the workplace, but politics has to be reflected. "

Professor Richard Sullivan, a surgeon and global cancer expert at the Institute of Cancer Policy, King's College Comprehensive Cancer Center, King's College London (United Kingdom), said that not only were there costs for patients, employers and society because of a loss of productivity, when people living with breast cancer are difficult or impossible to work, and also because of the way management and financing of treatment and treatment of cancer. He challenged national governments to deal with the current disconnection of cancer treatment costs and patient outcomes.

"This is a very serious problem." he told the meeting. "Data show that treatment costs for cancer are totally unrelated to the outcome for individual patients. You have countries in Europe that consume huge amounts for clinical care, but they almost do not notice an improvement in the results. For example, Greece consumes a significant amount in the treatment of breast cancer – 34,500 euros per new case per year – but she noticed only a minimal improvement in breast cancer outcomes, while other countries have a reduction in deaths of around 20-30%. Management of cancer care, most countries do not do this properly and pay a lot of money to care for trash. "

He said this was a complicated problem that had difficult and unpleasant solutions. "Many countries across Europe are losing the battle to ensure affordable, fair and high-quality care. Governments must have a ruthless control of prices and reimbursements with a transparent mechanism that connects patient costs, which also applies to what is happening in the real world, not only in the super centers of clinical excellence, but also the proper care of clinical care and pathways, so that all patients get proper care at the right time on the road to cancer.

"Some of these are a systemic problem, because we have mixed models of the private and public sectors, each of which is played with one another, some are due to clinical failure and corruption. In other areas, this is because the system did not set up the appropriate prices Now, what we see is a higher amount of money that is paid for less returns in terms of better, equitable results. "

The European Parliament is currently considering proposals for a new directive on work-life balance, which will include a provision on leave to work for persons who are caring for children or severely ill relatives. Members of ABC Global Alliance ask them to also look at the working rights of cancer patients.

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Provided by:
European School of Oncology


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