How employers can help curb cancer

Over 600,000 people were expected to die from cancer in 2018, according to a study by the American Cancer Society. Early diagnosis is the best chance of survival — the only problem is, not everyone participates in regular cancer screenings.

That’s where employers come in. As health plan providers, employers are in a great position to encourage their workforce to get routine cancer screenings, says Brenda Yang, senior vice president of Rally Health. This week is dedicated to that very purpose with the second annual Cancer Screen Week, hosted by the American Cancer Society along with Stand Up To Cancer, Rally Health and Genentech.

Employers, medical community and the wider public “can all raise cancer screening awareness and help to reduce cancer mortality for some of the most common cancers in the United States,” says Emmy Wang, corporate relations spokesperson for Genentech.

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Last year, 1.5 million people participated in Cancer Screen Week, which largely consists of educational efforts. The campaign encourages employers to remind employees that cancer tests are covered by their health plans, a practice that benefits both the company and the workforce.

“Cancer takes a huge emotional and financial toll on everyone affected,” Yang says. “Ultimately, the goal for employers is to reduce the financial burdens associated with healthcare costs for employees and themselves. Encouraging early screening accomplishes that.”

As part of the movement, the American Cancer Society and its partners are providing free fact-sheet posters and social media templates to help employers spread the word. It also includes appointment cards for employers who want to remind employees to be accountable for their health. The content can be downloaded via CancerScreenWeek.org.

“We have a lot of different channels employers can leverage to get the message out,” Yang says.

Genentech employees are in the unique position of being able to get cancer screenings at work through the company’s campus health center, which offers preventive wellness exams and complete health assessments including skin cancer checks, pap smears and colon cancer screening kits, Wang says.

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