The average United States adult diagnosed with cancer will miss five weeks of work in the first year and see total family income decline by 20%.
Those numbers may be even higher for some, as they are the average for people with various types and stages of cancer. Additionally these numbers account for those who started working full time as well as those who are not employed to begin with.
Five weeks is actually a huge blow when this is an average number.
Researchers used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics between 1999 and 2009. The Panel Study of Income Dynamics is a nationally representative study involving 8,000 families or about 17, 000 adults, including 1,000 individuals with a cancer diagnosis.
Annual labor market earning dropped 40% over the first two years and remained lower than before cancer diagnosis. However total family income often recovered within four years.
Income losses were driven by male cancer survivors more so than female cancer survivors.
The adults without a cancer diagnosis had higher employment and income levels overall.
Compared to almost every other developed country, United States labor law and labor culture is among the most severe. There are limited policies for sick leave or family leave. Therefore the effects are likely to be worse in the United States than in other developed countries.
The study was not large enough to compare the income impacts of different types of stages of cancer.
The study looked at the average impact of cancer, however it could be argued that advanced lunch cancer would have a more devastating effect than early breast cancer.
Cancer is unique because it tends to strike suddenly and can be very severe which makes it almost impossible for people to prepare for this kind of blow.