Breast cancer has been a top cause of disability for over a decade. Since 2010, the average length of a short-term disability claim for breast cancer was 64 days.
These trends are according to Unum, a leading provider of disability insurance. The average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. A supportive employer makes a big difference in recovery, along with early detection and advances in medical treatment.
Aside from grappling with a diagnosis, cancer patients often face a wide range of side effects from treatment. These include a weakened immune system, fatigue, and strained focus. Since employee needs may change over the course of treatment, employers should provide ongoing support.
- Provide leave options to allow time to recover and heal.
- Respond fast and offer resources.
- Understand physical limits and how those impact their role.
- Clearly define work duties.
- Create a flexible schedule or reduced workload.
- Encourage breaks to fight fatigue.
- Communicate often to keep the employee engaged.
- Provide feedback and coaching on performance.
Cancer and COVID-19
The ongoing pandemic creates even more challenges for people with cancer. Most cancer treatments suppress the immune system. This puts cancer patients at higher risk for serious illness caused by COVID-19.
Employers should consider providing adjustments to allow physical and social distancing, remote work, or modified workspaces to mitigate transmission. This is especially important during stages of treatment that suppress the immune system.
Employee benefits can help
In 2020, cancer was a leading cause for Unum long-term disability claims. Disability insurance can provide financial protection and work support for employees as they get treatment, recover, and return to work.
Cancer insurance offers benefits to assist with out-of-pocket costs that may not be covered by your medical insurance, including expenses related to inpatient or outpatient treatment, surgery, travel, and recovery care.