October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Cancer Prevention in Action Program is encouraging employers to help employees stay up to date with cancer screening such as mammograms by adding a benefit for paid time off for cancer screenings.
Many women had to put their mammogram on hold because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. In fact, all medical appointments that were not urgent were canceled to help stop the spread of the virus. Now that health care professionals can see patients again for routine care, employers can help staff get these important appointments back on their calendars.
In addition to potentially saving lives, being an employer who supports cancer prevention has other benefits. Studies have found that employers who offer paid time off for cancer screening have a healthier workforce because staff are encouraged to make regular visits to primary care physicians and get routine cancer screenings.
Paid time off is also cost effective. The medical costs of people with cancer are high, and cancer is the second leading cause of long-term disability.
A cancer diagnosis is estimated to cost a business more than $1,600 annually in lost productivity for each employee diagnosed. But savings related to early detection of cancers essentially pays for the costs of providing paid time off for cancer screenings.
The pandemic doesn’t change the fact that one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in her lifetime. In New York state alone, nearly 16,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and more than 2,500 die from the disease. A mammogram can find breast cancer early when it’s easiest to treat.
If you are an employer interested in creating a healthier workforce, saving lives and reducing business costs, please contact the CPiA program at 315-592-0827 for more information.
The writer is coordinator of Community Health for Oswego County Opportunities Inc.