Working and Cancer Treatment

How you may be affected

Each year almost 120,000 people of working age are diagnosed with cancer (Macmillan 2018).

Working often provides people with a real sense of normality and routine or may be essential for your finances. Your work may also be an important place for friendships and social life. However, cancer can cause a lot of uncertainties in your work life. This is often because you, as the patient, cannot predict how it may affect your work in either the short or long term.

Some people not only struggle with the physical effects of their treatment but need time to cope with, and adjust to, their feelings. It can be difficult to concentrate and manage your work when you feel anxious, shocked or upset. Some people work around their treatment. Others may need more rest or feel too unwell to work.

How we can help

However you are affected, in order to carry on working, or return to work, you must have the support from your employer.  The Equality Act (2010) considers a diagnosis of cancer as a disability. You don’t have to have symptoms or consider yourself disabled by your cancer to be covered. The law says your employer must consider making reasonable adjustments (changes) to help you.  We believe that if your manager fully understands your personal cancer journey and its effect on your ability to work, then they can support you much better.

With our knowledge and experience of both cancer, and assisting those back to work, we can help bridge the gap between you and your employer. We provide the necessary advice and support to not just be managing, but to be functioning at an acceptable level that both you and your employer understand and expect.

It can feel as though there is less support if you’re self-employed. You may not have a group of colleagues to fall back on, or a sick leave policy that keeps paying a salary while you have treatment. But being self-employed may mean that you have more scope for flexible working. It may be easier for you to change direction, or work in a new way that suits you better. With our knowledge of short and long-term treatment effects and longer term anticipated functional outcome we can help you make more informed decisions.

For more in-depth information and support please visit:

Rehab Beyond Cancer and work

We aim to improve your health and wellbeing so that you can do your job efficiently within the constraints of your cancer treatment and its late effects. Examples of how we can help you are listed below.

  • Physiotherapy treatment provided either on or off your work premises and tailored specifically to how your cancer-related problems are affecting your work.
  • Ergonomic Workplace Assessments to help improve your posture/positioning and reduce discomfort.
  • Job Task Analysis and advice on modifications aimed to reduce fatigue and symptoms that may be a result of your treatment.
  • Telephone advice provided promptly in the workplace setting as timely expert advice is vital to the quality and speed of your recovery.
  • Education of your employer to better understand your needs following cancer treatment bridging the gap between you and your employer.
  • Facilitate your return to work through the communication and provision of reports such as a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) and/or a Job Demands Analysis (JDA).

The combination of our assessment skills as a physiotherapist, our oncology expertise and the theoretical basis of the Obair FCE and JDA qualifications will enable us to support you in your job retention, return to work and your rehabilitation needs.

We would be very happy to work with your Occupational Health Officer, Human Resources team and any other experts who are assisting you in your work environment.