CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--The number of breast cancer patients who returned to work after being on short-term disability leave increased 11 percent over the last five years, according to internal data from Unum (NYSE:UNM), the leading provider of disability benefits through the workplace.
“Recovery and return to work play a particularly significant role for breast cancer patients”
In 2010, 70 percent of people on short-term disability leave due to breast cancer returned to work, a number that has climbed steadily from 29.9 percent in 2001.
“Recovery and return to work play a particularly significant role for breast cancer patients,” said Kristin Tugman, assistant vice president of Health and Productivity for Unum. “Most people who have been diagnosed with cancer are very motivated to get back to work because it helps create a sense of control at a time when people often feel understandably overwhelmed.”
Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October is a good opportunity to shed important light on this battle that hundreds of thousands of people wage each year and to highlight the value of coverage such as disability and critical illness insurance. These types of coverage not only provide financial protection, but they also provide support for employees as they recover and return to work.
Advances in cancer treatment have led to much higher rates of survival from diagnosis. The American Cancer Society estimates that the number of cancer survivors in the U.S. will grow to nearly 18 million by 2022. The Cancer Society also observes that the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor is the next critical area of attention for families, caregivers and employers.
“We work closely with employers whose employees are out on disability because of cancer,” Tugman said. “When a cancer patient is ready to resume some work responsibilities, we can help the employer offer the necessary support and accommodations their employee needs to return to work in a productive and safe manner.”
Cancer patients experience a wide range of side effects from treatment, including fatigue and cognitive issues that are the result of “chemo-brain,” Tugman said. As the employee transitions back to work, possible accommodations could include:
- Clearly defining work expectations and limitations
- Creating a flexible or reduced work schedule
- Modifying work stations to avoid having to stand or sit for too long
- Allowing extra time for breaks to combat fatigue
- Coaching and providing feedback on performance
Through research and education Unum offers employers guidance on how they can support workers through cancer diagnosis and treatment, and help those employees return successfully to the workplace.
Cancer is consistently a leading cause of Unum long-term disability claims, accounting for about 15 percent of claims each year. Breast cancer is the leading type, at about 21 percent of long-term disability cancer claims.
Almost 7 percent of Unum short-term disability claims are prompted by cancer, and breast cancer is the leading type at nearly 18 percent of short-term disability cancer claims.
Unum (www.unum.com) is a leading provider of financial protection benefits through the workplace. The disability insurance leader in the U.S. for 36 years, Unum’s portfolio of financial protection products also includes life, accident and critical illness, which help protect millions of working people and their families in the event of an illness or injury. In 2011, Unum paid more than $5 billion in benefits to more than 450,000 individuals and their families.