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General information on what cancer is, the common types of cancer and how it develops is available in the About cancer| section of the site. This section relates to work and cancer.
Depending on the type of cancer and its position in the body, you may have symptoms such as tiredness|, weight loss, breathlessness| or pain|. These may affect your ability to work.
It can help you to plan if you find out as much as possible about your cancer, including its likely effects, its treatment|, and whether these may make it difficult for you to work.
Your GP will be able to give general advice and support, while your doctors and the healthcare staff at your hospital can give you more detailed information.
It often helps to have someone else with you at appointments to help you remember what you want to ask, and to write things down.
You can also find information about your type of cancer from:
Many people find it helps to keep all their health information together. The NHS has a secure place where you can store all your electronic health information, called the NHS Health Space|.
You may find that doctors can’t answer your questions fully, or that their answers sound vague. The cancer specialists (surgeons and oncologists) at the hospital know approximately how many people will benefit from particular treatments.
They can often give some idea of whether your cancer is likely to be cured or whether it’s likely to come back after treatment. However, it’s usually impossible for them to say for certain whether the cancer can be cured or not, as everyone is individual and responds to treatment differently.
Many people find this uncertainty hard to live with. It can also make it difficult to know whether, or how much, you’ll be able to work in the future.
It’s a good idea to contact your manager or human resources (personnel) department| early on, if you feel comfortable doing this, to talk about the effect that your cancer may have on your ability to work. You may find it difficult, but if your manager is aware of the potential effects, they will be able to support you better.
If your workplace has an occupational health adviser, it can help to contact them as well. They will keep all information confidential if you ask them to.
It’s natural to have a range of feelings and emotions when you have been diagnosed with cancer. Your emotions may make it difficult for you to concentrate or work effectively. You may need to take some time off to adjust| to what is happening.
If you’re off sick for more than seven days in a row (including the weekend), you’ll need to get a Statement of Fitness for Work (also called a fit note) from your GP, signing you off from work. Most employers will be sympathetic to this.
These questions can help you find out how the cancer and its treatment may affect you and your ability to work.
Content last reviewed: 1 May 2011
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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