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 NEW YORK, June 4 /PRNewswire/ -- A new national poll indicates that

when employees are diagnosed with cancer, their supervisors and coworkers may react according to preconceived ideas about the disease and an individual's ability to overcome the challenges it poses. Despite solid evidence to the contrary, many in the workplace still assume that someone with cancer will no longer be productive, and the result may be a change in job responsibilities or a loss of a deserved raise or promotion.
 The survey included 200 supervisors and 500 employees with no history of cancer. The attitudes of supervisors indicated a substantial potential for problems. Of the supervisor respondents, 66 percent were concerned that an employee with cancer could no longer perform his or her job adequately, and 45 percent were worried that a worker with cancer might no longer take the job seriously enough. Half were concerned that the employee would eventually quit.
 "Unfortunately, many people don't realize how much cancer treatment has changed," said Michelle Goodman, an oncology clinical nurse specialist at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center and assistant professor of nursing at Rush University College of Nursing in Chicago. "Patients who might once have been incapacitated for a week after a course of chemotherapy now often get their treatment and go right back to work."
 Long-term prospects are also better, according to Diane Blum, executive director of Cancer Care, a nonprofit social service agency that helps cancer patients cope with the impact of the disease on their lives. "Many people still consider a diagnosis of cancer an automatic death sentence, while today millions of patients survive. In fact, studies have shown that the job performance of the great majority of cancer patients and survivors matches that of other employees," she noted.
 According to a National Institutes of Health publication, for instance, 80 percent of people with cancer return to work after diagnosis. The NIH further states that cancer survivors are as productive on the job as other workers, and that they aren't absent from work any more often.
 Nevertheless, debunking long-held myths is difficult. For example, six percent of supervisors thought it likely that a cancer patient at their company would be fired because of his or her illness, and 13 percent said the employee would likely be pressured to take early retirement. Thirty-five percent of supervisors said the person's job responsibilities would probably change, and eight percent that the employee would likely be denied a deserved raise or promotion. Moreover, 16 percent of supervisors said a past history of cancer would affect their decision to hire a qualified applicant, while 44 percent said a current cancer diagnosis would affect it.
 Arguing against these attitudes, Blum adds, "There's no reason to think cancer survivors won't be able to meet their obligations at work, in school, and at home. Discriminating against them on the job is not only unfair but illegal."
 The responses of 500 employees with no history of cancer also revealed some negative attitudes. Of the employee respondents, 13 percent agreed that a coworker with cancer probably would not be able to do his or her job, and 25 percent thought they would have to work harder to pick up the slack.
 One reason patients undergoing cancer treatment today can often stay at work is that severe side effects are not inevitable with chemotherapy, especially the two side effects people fear most: nausea and vomiting (emesis).
 "The debilitating nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy is usually preventable, even for patients given drugs very likely to cause these problems," noted Dr. Kelly Pendergrass, associate professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and director of the oncology unit and chief of the section of oncology at Research Medical Center in Kansas City.
 Pendergrass was a primary investigator in studies comparing the antinausea drug Zofran (R) (ondansetron HCI) injection, which became available in February 1991, with metoclopramide, one of the drugs given to combat cancer chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. As he and his colleagues reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (May 1991), Zofran -- the first of a new class of antiemetic agents -- clearly was more effective in that it resulted in fewer treatment failures. Overall patient satisfaction with control of nausea and vomiting was significantly greater in patients receiving Zofran.
 "People need to realize that they need not have the same fears that their patents and grandparents had 10 or 20 years ago," commented Blum. "We're making progress, but the survey shows there is much to be done to eliminate the stigma of cancer and to change attitudes that can make it so difficult for patients, especially in the workplace."
 The survey was conducted for Cerenex Pharmaceuticals, a division of Glaxo Inc., in May 1992 by the national polling firm Yankelovich Clancy Shulman; it has a sampling error of four percent to six percent, depending on the subgroup. Zofran, developed by Glaxo and marketed by Cerenex, is available for intravenous injection.
 Glaxo Inc. researches, develops, manufactures, and markets prescription medicines, including those for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, infectious diseases, respiratory ailments, central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and diseases of the skin. Headquartered in Research Triangle Park, N.C., it is a subsidiary of London-based Glaxo Holdings p.l.c. (NYSE: GLX).
 -0- 6/4/92
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: For complete prescribing information about Zofran, a package insert is available./
 /CONTACT: Rick Sluder for Glaxo, 919-248-7459/
 (GLX) CO: Glaxo Inc.; Cerenex Pharmaceuticals ST: North Carolina IN: MTC SU:

TQ-LR -- NY003 -- 6968 06/04/92 10:30 EDT
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Date:Jun 4, 1992

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