Chemotherapy is increasingly being given as "maintenance" therapy, continuing the regimen even after the cancer is under control, as a preventive strategy, according to a recent report in the New York Times. This approach is being used for ovarian cancer, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Here, Rosalie Canosa, a licensed clinical social worker and program division director at CancerCare, weighs in on what effects this trend may have in the workplace.
*If your oncologist suggests maintenance chemotherapy, you may need to work during the treatment or ask for additional time off under laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to undergo the extra chemo sessions and to take more recovery time. You may also need to request more accommodation, such as a flexible schedule. (Before deciding on maintenance chemo, ask your oncologist for evidence that the specific chemo suggested has been shown to work well to prevent relapse.)
*You may face increased out-of-pocket costs. "Some of these maintenance drugs are very expensive," Canosa says, ''and some people have lifetime caps [for coverage] on policies.'' You may need to research special assistance programs for help with payments if your policy doesn't cover enough or any of the extra chemo.
Employers, for their part, should anticipate that this trend will affect their workforce in the future. Employers should consider researching in advance to find or supply sources of financial help for these workers, and they should anticipate requests for additional accommodations.
The Times' article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/health/21canc.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&th&emc=th