Predictive factors for prolonged sick leave in breast cancer patients treated with adjuvant therapies: a retrospective registry study

Riikka-Leena Leskelä, Ira Haavisto*, Paula Pennanen, Mari Lahelma, Johanna Mattson, Paula Poikonen-Saksela

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Being able to work during and after breast cancer treatments is important for patients to have a sense of normalcy, financial security, and improved quality of life, and for society due to the economic burden of sick leave. Factors influencing the length of sick leave can be sociodemographic factors, workplace adaptations, recurrences, symptoms, and type of treatment. The aim of this study is to analyse factors associated with prolonged sick leave after adjuvant breast cancer treatments. Methods: The population of this registry study consists of 1333 early breast cancer patients diagnosed and treated in Helsinki University Hospital between 2016 and 2018. Data on patient demographics, disease characteristics, treatment, and healthcare resource utilization were obtained from Helsinki University Hospital and data on income level and sick leave were obtained from Kela sickness benefits registry. Prolonged sick leave was determined as the patient accumulating 30 or more reimbursed sick leave days during a 60-day follow-up period after the end of active oncological treatment. Univariate analysis and multivariate analysis were conducted. Results: A total of 26% of the patients in this study were on sick leave for 30 or more days after the active treatments ended. Study findings show that chemotherapy, triple-negative breast cancer, reconstructive surgery, amount of outpatient visits, and income are associated with prolonged sick leave. Independent predictors of prolonged sick leave were treatment line, number of outpatient contacts, reconstruction, and triple-negative breast cancer. Conclusions: Our study shows that prolonged sick leave affects a substantial number of working-age women with early breast cancer. Independent predictors for prolonged sick leave were all treatment-related. Targeted support for treatment-related side-effects already during the treatment period could lead to better recovery and earlier return to work.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalActa Oncologica
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1331-1337
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 12.09.2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 312,2 Cancers
  • Breast cancer
  • predictive
  • prolonged sick-leave
  • registry study
  • return-to-work
  • treatment


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