World Cancer Day is approaching on the 4th of February 2023. New research1 has found that 42% of employers said that employees having a better understanding of their own risks of serious illnesses, like cancer, had increased in importance in today’s world.   

In addition, a third (32%) of employers said that being able to easily access screening for cancer had increased in importance to employees. This comes amidst ongoing challenges like a lack of GP appointments and increased NHS waiting lists.

Highly preventable

Scientists estimate that around 40% of cancer cases could be prevented2. This equates to around 155,000 cases in the UK every year.

Early diagnosis 

For most cancers, the earlier it is detected, the better the survival rate3.

Cervical cancer: When diagnosed at its earliest stage, 96% of people will survive for a year or more, this compares to 50% of people when the disease is diagnosed in the latest stage4.

Prostate cancer: One in eight men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime5. Survival rates are extremely high in those diagnosed before symptoms develop. However, there is currently no national NHS screening programme for prostate cancer. This means that prostate cancer screening through the workplace is vital.

The benefits of screening 

Screening plays a crucial role in early diagnosis and can help to detect cancers at the earliest stages before symptoms develop. There are many screening tests which can be done, some of which can be carried out at home, including for bowel and prostate cancer, others of which a visit to a clinic is needed, and some that can be carried out on-site at workplaces. Employers can provide access to many of these via their health and well-being programmes.

Wider awareness and prevention 

Offering screening through the workplace can also help with raising awareness of cancer and, therefore, preventative measures. Lifestyle changes include not smoking, eating a healthy diet, being more active, and maintaining a healthy weight, all of which can be supported by employers through their wellbeing programmes.

Debra Clark, head of specialist consulting at Towergate Health & ProtectionWorld Cancer Day, says:

Employers prompted by World Cancer Day 2023 to offer simple screening or risk profiling services could literally have saved lives by the next World Cancer Day.

Debra Clark, head of specialist consulting at Towergate Health & Protection

RedArc also believes employers can play their part in this year’s World Cancer Day, the theme of which is ‘Close the Care Gap,’ by focusing attention on ensuring employees living with cancer get the care they require and deserve. They suggest the following three steps:

Step1Offer support

Employers who don’t already offer support must consider doing so to ensure their employees can access help when they are affected by cancer. With the disease being so prevalent and affecting such a large proportion of the population at one stage of their life or another, this is a clear way to demonstrate that employers care about the health of their employees.

Step 2: Ensure support meets real needs

‘Closing the Care Gap’ also means ensuring the support is carefully chosen and will really meet the needs of all of those who are affected by cancer.

This might be the employee and/or their families – whether just diagnosed or undergoing treatment. Support needs to add genuine value, be sufficiently comprehensive and flexible to meet all the different practical and emotional needs of all concerned.

Step 3: Communicate

Employers need to ensure that once support is in place, that it is effectively and regularly communicated so that staff know it is available and how to access it. Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc said:

Employers should be looking to improve the health outcomes of their employees and their families at very vulnerable times in their lives, simply because it’s the right thing to do. However, if a business case needs building, then the additional benefits for their own organisation are compelling – namely, differentiation against competitors, greater engagement with employees and improved perception of the employer. 

Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc

Joanne Swann, Content Manager, WorkWellPro
Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.