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Managing Cancer in the Workplace

World cancer day (February 4). A pair of hands holding awareness ribbons; blue, red, green, black, grey, white, pink and yellow color for supporting people living and illness.

Cancer is a significant cause of ill-health and death, both at home and in the workplace. Around 150,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Australia each year and it is estimated that there are currently nearly 270,000 people of working age living with a cancer diagnosis.

Work is extremely important to people living with cancer. A job can restore normality, routine, stability, social contact and income. These things are also important to carers. Around one in eight workers in Australia are carers, many of whom will be supporting a friend or relative with cancer.

Employers play a pivotal role in supporting people with cancer and their carers – a good relationship between an employer and an employee is more likely to lead to a successful return-to-work. This is particularly important because less than 40% of people are advised by health professionals about the impact cancer and its treatment may have on their ability to work.

As an employer or line manager, you may not always feel confident about how best to support an employee who is affected by cancer. There are challenges at the time of diagnosis, during treatment, at the time of return-to-work and afterwards. As it is also important to cater for the needs of other individuals in the workplace and your organisation as a whole, you may find it challenging both on a practical and personal level to meet the needs of all your employees.

Cancer Australia is a national government agency working to reduce the impact of cancer on all Australians. Their website has a wide range of information, resources and sources of support.

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