February 4 is World Cancer Day.
While the C-word might be scary to talk about, raising awareness about cancer screenings and ways to stay healthy are important in the workplace.
These valuable discussions aren’t limited to just one day in February, either. Every month has an awareness day or the full month focused on specific cancers, further opening the door for discussion.
Below, discover easy ways employers can promote awareness among employees and essential facts to share when it comes to cancer.
11 Ways to Promote Cancer Awareness at Work
Cancer awareness is a topic your wellness committee can bring up at any time of the year. Doing so raises opportunities for education and empowers employees to look into ways to prevent cancer in their own lives.
At any given time, you may have an employee with cancer. By making conversations around cancer and prevention more common, your leadership removes the stigma of talking about a difficult subject.
Here are ways to bring the subject naturally into work:
1. Create a Pledge Wall
Encourage workers to sign the wall promising to do annual checkups and bloodwork. This may also be a pledge to make healthy lifestyle choices that can reduce their cancer risk — like quitting smoking.
2. Host a Walk-a-Thon
During the month of February, consider setting up a walking event with proceeds donated to cancer research. Doing so benefits employees by getting exercise and raises much-needed funds for cancer research.
3. Have an Employee Hair Donation Day
Contact a local salon or learn more at sites like WigsforKids.org or Cancer.net on how hair donations help make custom hairpieces for those with cancer.
4. Share Rights
As an employer, you should know your workers’ rights when it comes to dealing with a serious illness such as cancer. Workers often need to see doctors multiple times, do treatment, and perhaps even have surgery. Update yourself and your workers on the Family and Medical Leave Act, ADA rules, and more.
5. Participate in the World Cancer Day 5K Challenge
Whether you love to walk, swim, bike, or run, this challenge is ideal for getting exercise and raising awareness! Use the hashtags #WorldCancerDay and #CloseTheCareGap and post your pictures online of your World Cancer Day 5K Challenge activities.
6. Share the Cancer Triage Resource
Dealing with cancer is difficult both emotionally and often financially. Share the resource offered through Triage Cancer that provides free one-on-one help in areas like employment, finances, disability insurance, and more.
7. Volunteer at a Cancer Center
Many cancer centers count on volunteers to help them with patients. Whether it’s driving a golf cart to pick up patients in their cars or checking-in family members, consider spending time as a group at a local cancer center. It will also offer insight into more ways your business can help.
8. Talk About Health Screenings
Many people don’t suspect a cancer diagnosis because they “felt fine.” But often it’s routine health screenings like self-breast exams, mammograms, and even regular physicals that catch cancer. Consider ways to bring more information into the workplace about screenings — whether it’s hosting a biometric screening or passing out fliers during a health fair.
Related: How to Plan Your Employee Health Fair From Start to Finish
9. Share the Cancer in the Workplace Tip Sheet
The American Cancer Society and National Business Group have a valuable Cancer in the Workplace HR Tip Sheet that is full of valuable information for human resource professionals. It covers everything from what to say when an employee shares their diagnosis to giving employees the help they need.
10. Host a Lunch and Learn With a Cancer Survivor
Sometimes just hearing someone’s personal story becomes the relatable way that someone takes a health topic more seriously. Consider bringing in a cancer survivor to share their battles and challenges and how they got through their cancer treatment. An alternative option is to host a lunch and learn with an oncologist.
11. Share Cancer Facts
Sometimes those stark, black-and-white facts are what people need to see in order to take a topic seriously. Given that millions of people are diagnosed with cancer each year, it’s likely that your employees, their loved ones, or a leadership member could get cancer. Share facts — like the ones below — from reputable sources to get them thinking.
While World Cancer Day may be held just one day a year, spreading awareness doesn’t need to stop with the end of the observance. In fact, World Cancer Day is every February 4 and acts as the global uniting initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). Keep spreading resources, facts, and knowledge to help your employees better understand how cancer can impact them, their workplace, and their community.
Seven Cancer Facts To Share With Your Team
If more people were aware of cancer symptoms and openly talking about cancer, thousands of lives could be saved each year. By simply sharing these stats with your workers, you may encourage them to get screened or talk to their doctor about important screenings.
Here are important cancer facts and stats to share:
1. Skin Cancer is the Most Common Cancer
In the United States, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed skin cancer. It’s important to note that the actual number of the most common types — basal cell and squamous cell — aren’t known because cases aren’t required to be reported.
2. You Can Reduce Your Cancer Risk
While there’s no surefire way to keep cancer away 100%, researchers indicate taking control of your health does help. Staying away from tobacco, moving daily, eating fruits and veggies, and doing regular screenings are all great prevention methods.
3. Cancer is the Second Most Common Cause of Death
In 2023, just over 1.9 million people will be diagnosed with cancer and over 600,000 people will die from cancer, according to the most recent report from the American Cancer Society.
4. Tobacco Products Increase the Risk of Cancer
Whether it’s cigarettes, vaping, or smokeless tobacco, the cancer risk is still there. Some cancers caused by tobacco use include lung cancer, mouth, larynx, throat, and esophagus cancer. Cervix cancer and also acute myeloid leukemia are also potential issues, according to the American Cancer Society.
5. Risk Factors for Breast Cancer Vary
A few of the risk factors for getting breast cancer include: getting older, personal or family history, inheriting gene changes like BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, having dense breast tissue, and having late menopause.
6. Lung Cancer Comes in Second for Most Diagnosed
For both men and women, lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer and is the most common cause of cancer death. Most lung cancer is caused by smoking in 80% of cases.
7. Cancer is a Global Issue
Worldwide, cancer is the leading cause of death. One in six people will die from cancer. The treatment makes a difference, too. Comprehensive treatment is available in more than 90% of high-income countries; for low-income countries, it’s 15%, according to the World Health Organization.
6. Secondhand Smoke is Cancer-Causing
Even if you’re not smoking, being around someone who is can be dangerous to your health. Secondhand smoke has more than 7,000 chemicals, including at least 69 that cause cancer.
7. One in Five Cancers is Caused By Lifestyle Issues
Recent research found that 1 in 5 cancers is caused by poor diet, excessive body weight, alcohol consumption, and/or physical inactivity.
By consistently promoting cancer awareness through your wellness initiatives, you remind employees to look into serious conditions, too. It opens the door to conversations about whole-body health and prevention measures. For those who do need treatment, the sooner they can get it, the more effective it can be in the early cancer stages.
World Cancer Day Reminds Us Cancer is a Big Health Issue
Every day, people are diagnosed with cancer. There’s a high chance that an employee comes to HR asking for help if they or a loved one are diagnosed. As leaders, it’s essential to show compassion and empathy. Kindness goes a long way in helping scared employees navigate through the challenges of a cancer diagnosis.
Americans rank cancer as one of the most critical health issues due to its costly consequences both mentally, physically, and financially, according to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. Keeping that in mind is helpful as an employer when it comes to health insurance renewals, wellness initiatives, and beyond. It matters to your workers.
Sharing and openly talking about cancer awareness in the workplace prompts conversations around screenings, health, and overall well-being. It also provides an opportunity for outdated policies and procedures to be reviewed.
World Cancer Day is just the beginning of important conversations. Keep them going all year long as a prevention measure and to encourage your employees to take the best care of themselves.
How does your workplace handle cancer discussions? What has been the most helpful and useful information you’ve been given at work around cancer awareness?