(HealthDay News) – Significant differences have been identified in the return-to-work (RTW) process for male and female cancer survivors, according to research published online Jan. 28 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Patricia Marino, PhD, of the Institut Paoli-Calmettes in Marseilles, France, and colleagues examined the effects of clinical, sociodemographic, and occupational factors on time to RTW for 801 employed cancer survivors younger than 58 years in the two years after cancer diagnosis.

The researchers identified sex differences in the RTW process. Married men returned to work faster than married women and older men had a delayed RTW vs. older women (P = 0.19 and 0.13, respectively). For male survivors, the duration of sick leave was independent of the probability of returning to work, while for female survivors there was positive duration dependence. Clinical factors, including chemotherapy regimen, adverse effects experienced, and cancer severity, significantly delayed RTW for both men and women. RTW was also delayed for cancer survivors who invested more strongly in their personal lives or had a permanent work contract. Having a higher educational level accelerated the RTW.

“The results obtained show that the duration of sick leave is sex-specific,” the authors write. “A better knowledge of the RTW process would enable physicians to identify patients with intervention needs more accurately, thus helping national implementation of more cost-effective strategies for managing cancer survivors’ RTW.”

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