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Retuning to work, new job , do I say iv had cancer?

Posted 01 Jan 2017 at 14:08
Hi all,

18 months post op, still struggling with a few issues but looking forward as you must . I'm going to start looking for work this week but as per the title , do I reveal to having prostate cancer on the application forms or interviews? Iv been told it may go in my advantage as in this politically correct world as I now fit into a minority group!!!!!
I'm not so sure, iv been told in the passed not to admit to anything other than a cold. So what do you think? Any experiences with this one or any business owners got an opinion.


Posted 02 Jan 2017 at 02:52

Hi Johny,

An interesting question and one I can't recall having been raised here during my time on the forum.

Perhaps the type of work you are applying for and your experience may have a bearing on this. It may be that an employer has to have a public liability insurance cover on it's employees and that it's insurers require medical history of potential employees. Certainly, there has been a lot of employment legislation over recent years with rights for both employers and employees. But would it be an advantage for you to disclose your medical situation initially, because these days one often has to go on a 'short list' ? My only thought is to get some advice from a Job Centre on this. They are in touch with a range of employers and would likely be best placed to know, as they even help some people with their CV's.

Do let us know what advice you receive as this may help others in a similar situation to yourself.

Posted 02 Jan 2017 at 08:49
Hello Jonny,
Welcome to the forum,employment application forms do ask medical questions, you can only be truthful, the reason for the questions is to see whether the employer has to make reasonable adjustment incase of a disability in your new employment.
I know of some employees who were dismissed at a later date for not disclosing medical details.
Good luck

Edited by member 02 Jan 2017 at 08:50  | Reason: Not specified

Posted 02 Jan 2017 at 08:59

I always believe in the truth mate , unless you really don't care if they find out later and no sick-pay / bad future reference etc.
And yes it may actually go in your favour. Having said that , I recently applied to be a dinner " lady " haha at the school I already read at and am well liked at , and I told them the truth. Admittedly I'll probably have further treatment this year , so I was rejected :-((.

If life gives you lemons , then make lemonade
Posted 02 Jan 2017 at 09:41

By now Johny I expect you are well on the road to recovery (or you wouldn't be seeking work)

I know that employers are supposed to consider the help a new employee requires so it may go in your favour, if you are not suffering side effects that would affect anyone else.

However, PC doesn't generally register you disabled so I'm not sure whether you can enforce that


Good luck in your search and I hope it goes well for you. I also think asking the job centre for advice would help you.

We can't control the winds - but we can adjust our sails
Posted 02 Jan 2017 at 10:10

Hi Johny

As the others have said, you have to answer truthfully if asked but generally they can't ask too many personal questions, and as Sandra mentioned PCa is not a disability. They cannot discriminate against you having/having had cancer - but you wouldn't necessarily want to shout about it in an interview in the same way that a smoker and heavy drinker isn't going to disclose his lifestyle habits.

If you have any issues that would affect your ability to do the job as described, then you should disclose it. In practice, unfortunately, most people don't.

Good luck with the job hunt.


Posted 02 Jan 2017 at 10:41

What they all said!

If asked, you need to answer truthfully, or you could be sacked instantly with no compensation, and total denial of benefits, plus no references. A lie also damages you, as you'll always have that fear of being caught out.

Also, if you have any limitations due to PCa or its treatment (eg frequency, reduced stamina), then you'd be unwise to try and hide them.

Some employers may be sympathetic (so long as you're up to the job), others will discriminate against you. A few will not even consider you (if they have 200 applications, they'll often choose to keep it simple). Most will appreciate the honesty, and that could help. That's the reality.

People do lie to get jobs; they lie about health, experience, qualifications, age. For that matter, employers lie too! But all those who lie are taking a calculated risk. If you're tempted, do a careful risk assessment first ... is it really worth it?

-- Andrew --
"I intend to live forever, or die trying" - Groucho Marx
Posted 02 Jan 2017 at 22:22
Hi Johny

I work in education and we would be crucified if we sought medical information before issuing an offer of employment. We can't even ask on the application form how many days you had off in the previous year.

We do have an equal opportunities form. On that, you can declare if you consider yourself to have a disability. Members of the interview panel are not supposed to see that information. So this is the first problem - how confidential is the information on an equal pops form in any given organisation?

The second problem is establishing continuity of employment. In education, we need to track your employment record since you left school. It's needed for child protection reasons. So, at interview, I would really quiz you on why you had been out of work, what you had done to find work etc. I think in that context it would be difficult to hide your medical history. So I would want you to reassure me as best you could that I wasn't taking on someone who was going to be an attendance problem. However, I would expect you to drive that conversation as I might be on dodgy legal grounds if I quizzed you. Remember, seemingly healthy people with perfect attendance records can suddenly find they have cancer. I hadn't had a day off in 11 years and then discover I have prostate cancer. An enlightened employer would understand that none of us know what the future holds. I have employed seemingly reliable people who turned out to be the employees from hell. I also employed someone who had had cancer and she was a total asset to our organisation. The other thing is, if I as a potential employer know you have had cancer, I will be very careful if I don't offer you the job to have very good reasons why you're not being offered the job in case you accuse me of discrimination. That's sadly a reflection of the times in which we live.

Thirdly, what about references. I've had references from well-meaning referees stating things like, 'Bob is an inspiration. His brave fight against cancer demonstrates his resilience and determination and I am sure he will be an asset to your organisation.'

Once I have offered someone a job, they then fill in a medical form. If there is something on the medical form that causes me to think that a person isn't fit for the job, I can refer them for an independent assessment of capability. I as the employer am more likely to be told that I have to make reasonable adjustments - it is possible for the independent assessor to state that the job offer should be withdrawn but I've never actually seen this happen.

Of course, I work for the government and we stick to the rules. Smaller employers may not even fully understand employment law.

If I were you, I'd contact Macmillan or the Citizens Advice Bureau for advice.


Posted 02 Jan 2017 at 23:12

Hi Johnny, its a case of damned if you do . : . damned if young don't, employers are looking for the best employees, if you can do the job well you are the best person for the job, if you can't do the job well the employer will look for an excuse or reason to "let you go" and if that reason is PC that is what they will use.
I personally would not say anything. : . : nor would I use PC as an excuse for not performing.
The decision is yours, move on from PC and get on with your life. : . : . :
Good luck and my very best regards

life's a b****- then you die!!!!!
Posted 03 Jan 2017 at 09:45

Whoa -

The Equality Act 2010 made it illegal for employers to ask about health, sickness absence, disability etc before you have been selected as the preferred candidate. It is also unlawful to ask a previous employer/referee about your health and attendance until after you are offered the post. Once you have been offered a post you have a duty to answer any health questionnaire honestly and they can withdraw the offer or dismiss you if you lie.

Cancer is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act so they would have to be able to prove that having had cancer in the past (or the side effects /drugs you are still dealing with) would prevent you from fulfilling the job requirements and that there are no reasonable adjustments they could make to accommodate you.

Ulsterman, you are right that schools, colleges and local authority employers are far more up yo date with this stuff than most but there is one important exemption ... schools are permitted to ask these things about teachers due to an exception in the legislation (although few have the confidence to)

Edited by member 03 Jan 2017 at 09:46  | Reason: Not specified

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." Soren Kierkegaard
Posted 03 Jan 2017 at 12:33

Hi Johny,

Well it seems that excluding specific exemptions, you are not obliged to disclose your PCa when applying for a job but would be obliged to do so if so required on being offered the job. Whether you would get any brownie points for volunteering this disease with your application might depend on the attitude of an individual employer and whether you are classified as disabled where I know certain provisions apply, at least in big organizations to take a proportion of disabled people. Regardless of what the law may say, some employers would look less favorably on processing an application from somebody they knew had cancer so I would not try to use this as a marketing tool at the outset.

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