BACKGROUND: Support for the return to work of working-age adult cancer survivors is a major theme for occupational health professionals in Europe. AIMS: To provide an overview of the outcomes of recent European research in this field and discusses future research directions to explore and improve the return-to-work experience of cancer survivors. METHODS: European research, principally from English and Dutch language journals, on the subject of return to work was reviewed. RESULTS: Few European interventions have been developed and evaluated which enhance returning to work in cancer patients. They include a nurse-based intervention in the UK, a group rehabilitation programme in Sweden, rehabilitation programmes in Germany and a specialist-occupational physician intervention in Holland. Also described are current evaluation and research into models of occupational health support that seek to improve the experience of cancer survivors in their interaction with work. The development of evidence-based guidelines by the Dutch Society of Occupational Medicine is described. CONCLUSIONS: Research within the European international scientific literature has begun to identify priorities for the successful rehabilitation of employees back to the workplace after cancer diagnosis.