Reinforcing the importance of colorectal cancer screening with your employees can help to educate, drive preventive action, and may save lives.
If everyone in the United States aged 50 or over were regularly screened for colorectal cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 32,000 lives could be saved in 2020.1,2
The Impact of Colorectal Cancer Extends Beyond the Patient
Colorectal cancer also affects employees who are caregivers of those diagnosed with cancer. Caregivers have to make changes in their work lives, such as reducing hours, taking a leave of absence, or stopping work entirely to be there for their loved ones.3 If a family member or loved one is diagnosed with colorectal cancer, it can have a significant impact on an employee’s productivity, even if he or she is not acting as a formal caregiver.3
Communication Tips: Raising Awareness of Colorectal Cancer
You and your employees have the power to do something about this cancer. You can help raise awareness of colorectal cancer and increase screening rates when you:
Promote the importance of prevention.
- Even if the employees themselves are not at risk, a member of their family who is part of the company-offered coverage plan may be and should be encouraged to get screened
Remind employees that regular screening is recommended.
- Even for people who feel fine and have no symptoms—people with early colorectal cancer may be symptom free4
Encourage employees to talk to their health care provider.
- Find out whether it’s the right time to be screened. Share these tips with employees to help guide discussions with their doctor
Suggest that employees contact their health plan company about coverage for screening.
- The health plan company can provide information about all the preventive services that are covered under each employee’s health plan and any costs that may be associated with any procedure
- Encourage employees to discuss the differences in coverage for preventive versus diagnostic screening services with both their health plan company and health care provider—specifically, how these differences may affect out-of-pocket costs
Reinforce screening benefits by providing ongoing literature.
- Consider a communication strategy that includes an employee newsletter
Empower employees to become comfortable discussing screening.
- Providing a discussion guide can help alleviate any discomfort in initiating a dialogue with health care providers
Action Steps: Making a Difference for Employees and Their Families
As an employer, you are in a unique position to make a real difference for your individual employees, their families, and the workplace at large. Consider these action steps:
Design Benefits and Programs to Facilitate Screening
As part of a total-health or productivity program, create an incentive program for eligible employees who get screened. This program could offer some form of informational giveaway or simply provide employees with days off to have the screening procedure.
Cover Time Off
Make it as easy as possible for employees to get screened. For instance, colonoscopies actually require 2 days, 1 for prep and 1 for screening. Adjusting the company’s leave policy to allow employees to take 2 sick days or other non-vacation days off for the necessary prep and procedure may remove a potential barrier to getting screened.
Engage in Active Communication
From a communications perspective, it is both easy and inexpensive to create an environment in which employees are encouraged to get screened for colorectal cancer.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Increasing Quality Colorectal Cancer Screening and Promoting Screen Quality: An Action Guide for Engaging Employers and Professional Medical Organizations. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/crccp/pdf/employersguidefinal.pdf. Accessed March 26, 2020.
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2020. https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2020/cancer-facts-and-figures-2020.pdf. Accessed March 23, 2020.
- Caregiver statistics: work and caregiving. Family Caregiver Alliance website. https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-work-and-caregiving. Accessed March 26, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Colorectal cancer screening. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/pdf/basic_fs_eng_color.pdf. Accessed March 26, 2020.