62% of male cancer patients feel supported by employers

Just under two-thirds (62%) of male respondents who have completed cancer treatment felt they received good support from their employer during and after treatment, according to YouGov research commissioned by Unum in partnership with cancer charity Maggie’s.


The research, which surveyed more than 1,000 adults who currently have or have had cancer and were employed at the time of their diagnosis, also found that 81% of male respondents thought it important that employers understand what staff with cancer are going through.

In addition, 79% thought it would be helpful for their employer that they have access to expert advice on how to support employees in returning to work.

The research also found:

  • Only 59% would feel comfortable discussing the support they need at work with their employer
  • 21% put off telling their HR department about their cancer diagnosis until they had to take sick leave or receive treatment
  • 21% did not feel comfortable asking for time off for appointments related to their condition
  • 40% could have underestimated the physical, mental and emotional effects of cancer.

Joy Reymond (pictured), head of vocational rehabilitation services at Unum, said:When treatment is complete and the most obvious symptoms subside, it can be easy to assume that things will simply return to normal at work.

“But it takes time to adjust to the longer-term consequences of cancer, such as fatigue or memory loss. It can be tempting to try to jump right back in, but it’s important for employers and employees to agree positive, realistic goals and timeframes.

“Effective communication is key if employers are to understand the needs of staff with cancer and put in place a tailored and flexible return-to-work plan to make sure they are providing the right support.”

Lesley Howells, research lead at Maggie’s, added: “A positive return to work can play an important role in recovery, yet many men with cancer find it difficult to admit that they need extra help in the workplace, either to themselves or their employer.

“They need support to acknowledge that their everyday needs in the workplace may change and to ask for the flexibility and adjustments they need.”