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Poor Women With Breast Cancer Are 4 Times More Likely To Lose Their Jobs -- But Why?

Poor woman with breast cancer

Statistics show that about one in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. But only one-fourth of low-income women are as likely to keep their jobs as women with higher incomes who are also going through breast cancer treatment.

The reasons why

According to international news agency Reuters, breast cancer disproportionately affects poor women more than women with healthy incomes. Why? Poor women are often in low-paying jobs where employers are far less likely to be understanding and flexible about their need for time off due to breast cancer treatment and recovery. Women in hourly positions are often easily replaced by their employers, leaving them not only to cope with a devastating illness but also to find themselves without a job.

Race and ethnicity not a factor

Research also revealed that neither race nor ethnicity were factors in the increase of poor women over higher-income women losing their jobs due to breast cancer treatment. The disproportion was based entirely on economic factors.

Previous reports have also shown that one-third of working-age cancer survivors go into debt, and 3 percent file for bankruptcy. In addition, a 2016 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that people who underwent cancer treatment and filed for bankruptcy protection were more likely to die than those who remained financially healthy.

What women need to know

Employers can provide assistance to these women by allowing them to take more breaks, and being flexible about time off for doctor appointments and cancer treatments. In fact, it's the law. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, government employers, and private employers with 15 or more employees, must make “reasonable accommodations” for workers diagnosed with cancer.

Read more by visiting www.reuters.com/article/us-health-breastcancer-job-retention-idUSKBN1672DQ

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