Do what works for you

A diagnosis of breast cancer can have an impact on many aspects of daily life, including work. While time off work is certainly needed due to treatment and support, changing work schedules, or starting back to work may be difficult for many women.

Should you tell your colleagues?

A frequent question is whether or not you should tell your colleagues or supervisor about your diagnosis and treatment. Remember that in reality you do not need to tell anyone about your diagnosis and treatment, except perhaps in the case that it will interfere with your ability to work. You might decide to tell only some people, or only those you feel comfortable in telling. Make the decision that feels right for you.1

Working through treatment and going back to work

If you decide to work during your treatment, make sure that your doctor knows, and also ask about any side effects that may interfere with your work.2 If you took time off work, you may consider going back to work if you feel good enough. A return to work may also help you to reconnect to ordinary life. Studies have shown that returning to work is associated with good body image, better physical function, better well-being, and regular exercise.3

If you are motivated to return to work or are still working, an integrated approach to home, work, social activities and family can help you to improve your quality of life and minimise the burden that breast cancer and its treatment may have on your life and overall well-being.

Whatever you decide, talk to your doctor and care team. In addition, you can seek advice with a local breast cancer patient association. They can help you make the right decision.


  1. [Last accessed June 2017].
  2. [Last accessed June 2017].
  3. Lee MK, et al.J Occup Rehabil. 2016 17. [Epub ahead of print].

Breast cancer: Live your life

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