While the majority of people (87%) felt it was important to continue working after their diagnosis, nearly a quarter (23%) of those who did return said they went into work despite not feeling well enough to be there.
The research also revealed that a tenth (10%) of cancer patients employed at diagnosis felt pressured into returning to work before they were ready. A further 10% also felt the need to cover up cancer symptoms, like fatigue and sickness, while at work.
Moira Fraser-Pearce, director of policy, campaigns and influence at Macmillan Cancer Support, said that a lack of support at work causes “unnecessary stress” for those diagnosed with cancer.
“Every two minutes somebody in the UK is diagnosed with cancer and many of these will have to deal with their illness while holding down a job,” she said.
“We know just how important it is to many people to work during their cancer treatment or return to employment afterwards. A lack of support means an unacceptable amount of people are facing unnecessary work-related stress and anxiety, including potentially losing their jobs, which can have a detrimental impact on their finances."
After seeing a 74% rise in calls to its support line about work-related issues the charity has expanded its work support services.
Macmillan also runs an employer support service, the Macmillan at Work programme, which offers a toolkit, resources and training for line managers and HR professionals. It aims to help employers feel equipped to support staff affected by cancer who want to stay in or return to work.
Fraser-Pearce encouraged employers to sign up to the programme to better support employees affected by cancer: “Employers have such an important role to play during this turbulent time. Our Macmillan at Work programme helps employers better understand the needs of people with cancer in the workplace and the different ways they can support them.”
YouGov surveyed 1,507 people who were in work when diagnosed with cancer on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support.