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Work and side effects of treatment

Side effects may affect how you work from day-to-day and your ability to work. With the help of your employer, you can find out how to make your working day easier to help you deal with these side effects.

Whilst undergoing any cancer treatment, there is always the chance that you may experience side effects. These side effects may be mild or slightly more serious so the impact it will have on your job is different for everyone. Some people may choose to carry on working throughout their treatment as they may not experience severe side effects, whereas some people may be badly affected by side effects during treatment and need to give up work completely. It may also depend on how heavily you need to be monitored throughout your treatment.

Your employer can help by making small adjustments to your working environment. For example, if you experience extreme fatigue, small changes made by your employer, such as moving you to a ground floor desk so you don’t have to use the stairs or shortening your working day can make a huge difference.

It’s important to note that during this period of treatment, it is supposed to be a time when you are focussed on getting better, so you should try not to worry too much about work as your are entitled to time off if undergoing cancer treatment.

Blood cancer patients have a chance of becoming neutropenic, making you more vulnerable to infection. Because of this, you may require time off to protect you until your neutrophil level has risen in case you catch any infections from your work colleagues.

Other appearance-related side effects such as hair loss or changes to your skin and nails may make you feel uncomfortable being in a work environment. It is important to remember that these side effects will be temporary in most cases and by speaking to your employer they can make changes to how you work, for example, working from home. 


Published: Feb 2016

Next planned review: Feb 2018