The lived experience of breast cancer survivors: returning to work and post treatment support

Jonathan Tigwell, Allyson Lipp, Rachel Iredale, Paul Gill, Gina Dolan, Matthew Thornton

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review



Around 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK and there are now estimated to be around 570,000 people living currently in the UK who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and can be classed as cancer survivors. There is currently a paucity of research into the rehabilitation of breast cancer survivors after treatment has concluded. To ensure this cohort receives the optimum rehabilitation after treatment and achieve a timely return to work, it is important that survivor's experiences are studied and the findings used to inform care and support services.


This study sought to increase the understanding of breast cancer survivor's experiences of returning to work and the support received after treatment. Fifteen female breast cancer survivors were purposively recruited via the Tenovus Cancer Care database. Data were collected through recorded semi-structured interviews. Phenomenology was implemented in the design of the study, and the analysis of the data, to obtain a detailed description of the lived experience of participants. Thematic analysis was used to elicit patterns within the data and emergent themes were systematically collated to produce the final findings.


The analysis produced unique insights into the lived experience of returning to work after breast cancer and the support received after treatment. Major themes include the importance of work in rehabilitation, the long term effects of treatment and a sudden drop in support after the completion of treatment. A summary of the completed themes and individual examples will be presented in the poster.


The experience of returning to work after breast cancer is a complex and varied phenomenon, of which cancer and care services would benefit from a greater understanding to address the holistic requirements of survivors in order to provide optimum rehabilitation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventNCRI Cancer Conference 2015 - Liverpool
Duration: 1 Nov 20154 Nov 2015


ConferenceNCRI Cancer Conference 2015


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