Cancer Stigma Hampers Patients' Professional Careers
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Cancer Stigma Hampers Patients' Professional Careers

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Sofía Garduño By Sofía Garduño | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Fri, 01/20/2023 - 17:57

Publicis Foundation launched the “Working with Cancer” initiative, which aims to eliminate the stigma of cancer in the workplace. With the support of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Publicis Foundation will promote work cultures based on solidarity to support employees living with cancer. Other companies and organizations are also joining the initiative.


“By making the continuous efforts [of those who live with cancer] more visible, together we can reduce cancer anxiety and stigma in the workplace and positively impact the health of our employees,” said Arthur Sadoun, CEO, Publicis Group. 


Half of cancer patients are afraid of telling their employers about their diagnosis regardless of the impact that the disease could have on their health. A study showed that patients feel that they are often avoided by others once they have received a cancer diagnosis. 


Misinformation is sometimes the root of this stigma as there are myths linked to cancer that can generate discrimination. According to the Chinese Nursing Research (CNR), perceived health related stigma contributes to physical, psychological and social morbidity and it has been identified as a barrier to health promotion, as reported by MBN. For example, many link lung cancer with smoking but while smoking is a common cause, it is not the only one. In Mexico, about 34 percent of lung cancer cases are linked to wood smoke, said Isabela Rivas, Medical Value Lead Lung Cancer, Roche Mexico, to MBN. It is also common to believe that patients will not be as productive or that they will not meet the company’s expectations, according to A study that included 433 cancer survivors, showed that 24 percent of them lost their jobs after diagnosis and 20.7 experienced discrimination at work. 


To face this, the initiative supported by the WEF will invite companies from all over the world to join and share their commitments to their employees. Global companies, such as LVMH, Disney and Nestlé, have already joined the initiative. 


The “Working with Cancer” group will launch a US$100 million campaign on Feb. 4 to encourage people to support colleagues who are fighting the disease.  “Taking collective action to normalize the cancer conversation in the workplace is imperative to help people feel supported in their cancer experience,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, President and CEO, MSK, which is a founding partner of this initiative. 

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