Raising Colorectal Cancer Screening Awareness

The Love Your Colon initiative was specifically designed to help guide conversations with plan members and employers to:

Raise awareness of colorectal cancer screening

Raise awareness of colorectal cancer screening

Promote good health

Promote good health

Reduce costs associated with colorectal cancer

Reduce costs associated with colorectal cancer

To help you take action against colorectal cancer, review the communication tips for payers, as well as tips for engaging with members and employers.

According to the American Institute of Cancer Research,

Each year, cancer costs the world more money than any other disease.1

The costs of colorectal cancer include not only doctors visits, hospital stays, and other medically related expenses, but also the hidden costs associated with colorectal cancer, such as travel and lodging, childcare, lost time from work, and many others.

Promoting regular screening reduces costs associated with colorectal cancer and saves lives.2 And experts agree, screening tests like colonoscopy and fecal occult blood tests save money compared with no screening.3

Communication Opportunities for Payers

Communication Opportunities for Payers

  1. Promote Screening
    Remind members and their employers to take advantage of their plans' available preventive care services.
  2. Raise Awareness of Colorectal Cancer
    Emphasize that colorectal cancer is preventable, detectable, and if found early, treatable.2
  3. Continue to Educate
    Communicate the differences between preventive and diagnostic services to help clarify circumstances of coverage.
Tips for Engaging With Members

Tips for Engaging With Members

  1. Be Understanding
    An important barrier to understand when talking to members is the potential for embarrassment. To help members become more open to being screened for colorectal cancer, explain that there are a number of screening options they can discuss with their health care provider.
  2. Explain the Risk
    Consider presenting information about the risks for colorectal cancer and how screening has been proven to significantly reduce that risk.
  3. Illustrate the Benefits
    Take the time to explain all the services and benefits that the health plan offers to make screening as easy as possible (eg, no co-pay or coinsurance for members between the ages of 50 and 75). Also, encourage members to look into and take advantage of existing total-health or productivity programs in their workplace.
  4. Leverage Additional Channels
    Members may be more likely to trust advice that comes from their health care provider or employer than from payers. Encourage health care providers and employers in the plan’s network to be educational advocates for colorectal cancer screening. You can also involve community voices to help build awareness. For example, the Love Your Colon pilot program in South Carolina successfully engaged local barbers and stylists to help spread the word about colorectal cancer screenings.
  5. Utilize Resources
    The Love Your Colon initiative has developed many resources to help implement this program among members. Tools to learn about risk factors for colorectal cancer and available screening tests are available here. Resources specific to payers include templates for a Letter to Health Plan Members and a Letter to Health Plan Providers.

    Also, members should know that many health plans have online navigator programs with content about colorectal cancer and the importance of regular screening.
Tips for Engaging With Employers

Tips for Engaging With Employers

  1. Demonstrate the Value
    Focus on the fact that prevention is critical for both the employee (from a health standpoint) and employer (from a financial/productivity standpoint).
  2. Leverage the Data
    Remind employers of the potentially large cost difference between prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer.
  3. Explain the Implications
    Highlight the potential emotional impact on employees, and even co-workers who do not have colorectal cancer, to emphasize the importance of screening. Colorectal cancer may lead to absenteeism and a reduction in productivity when an employee, or an employee’s loved one, is diagnosed.
  4. Utilize Resources
    Use the materials provided through the Love Your Colon initiative: these include a variety of downloadable resources that can help build awareness and promote screening and prevention.

You can make a lasting and important difference

in the lives of your members while also helping to reduce costs in the future.
Use your position and relationships to make an impact.

Communicate and Educate Today!

Learn More


  1. Elkins C. How much cancer costs. Drug Watch website. https://www.drugwatch.com/2015/10/07/cost-of-cancer/. Accessed March 26, 2020.
  2. 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.
  3. Moffitt Cancer Center. Patel SS, Kilgore ML. Cost effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening strategies. Cancer Control. https://moffitt.org/File%20Library/Main%20Nav/Research%20and%20Clinical%20Trials/Cancer%20Control%20Journal/v22n2/248.pdf. Accessed March 26, 2020.