March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


Did you know that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. for both men and women? While colorectal cancer is very serious, it is treatable when found early and can even be prevented through appropriate screening (unlike many cancers). In fact, 90% of the time, colon cancer can be treated if caught early. Working Well is partnering with the SC Cancer Alliance to promote colorectal cancer screening in the workplace in an effort to increase screening rates across the state.

Serious conditions like cancer, especially colorectal cancer, can have major impact on companies in lost work time and underperformance. Employees with cancer miss 3.8 more days of work per year and have 1.8 more days per year of low productivity from working while sick. Additionally, employees who are caregivers of those diagnosed with cancer are also affected, as they may have to make changes in their work lives to be there for their loved ones.

The good news is that as an employer, you can make a difference in the lives of your employees and their loved ones. Reinforcing the importance of colorectal cancer screening to your employees can help increase preventive screening rates and may save lives. Here are some tips to raise awareness about colorectal cancer screening in the workplace.

  1. Promote the importance of prevention. Even if the employees themselves are not at risk, one of their covered dependents may be and should be encouraged to get screened.
  2. Remind employees that regular screening is recommended. Even people who feel fine and have no symptoms should be screened since people with early colorectal cancer may be symptom free. It is important to get screened if: you are age 45 or older, have a family history of colorectal cancer or colon polyps, have inflammatory bowel disease, or have had an abnormal colonoscopy in the past.
  3. Encourage employees to talk to their healthcare provider about when they should begin screening and what test is right for them.
  4. Suggest that employees contact their health insurance company about coverage for screening. Most health plans cover preventive screening for colorectal cancer. The health plan can provide information about all the preventive services that are covered and any costs that may be associated with any procedure.
  5. Encourage employees to discuss the differences in coverage for preventive versus diagnostic screening services with both their health plan and healthcare provider—specifically, how these differences may affect out-of-pocket costs.
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:
  1. Design benefits and programs to facilitate screening. As part of a total-health or productivity initiative, create an incentive program for eligible employees who get screened. This program could offer some form of giveaway, wellness points, or simply provide employees with days off to have the screening procedure. Also, add coverage for colorectal cancer screening to your health plan benefits if it is not currently covered.
  2. Cover time off. Make it as easy as possible for employees to get screened. For instance, colonoscopies actually require two days - one for prep and one for screening. Adjusting the company’s leave policy to allow employees to take two sick days or other non-vacation days for the necessary prep and procedure may remove a potential barrier to getting screened.
  3. Engage in Active Communication. Create an environment in which employees are encouraged to get screened for colorectal cancer and are comfortable discussing it.
For more information and resources visit (click on “Resources”) or (click on “Employers”). Here you will find resources to help you promote colorectal cancer screening to your employees including postcards, fact sheets, flyers, newsletter articles, pledge cards and more. If you have questions about promoting cancer screening at your workplace, contact Henry Well, Executive Director of the SC Cancer Alliance, at


02-21-2019 03:55 (EST)