Dylan Murray

Reproductive Cancer Screening Conversations in the Workplace

Patients frequently overlook the value of a reproductive cancer screening. Even though such exams are vital, many people ignore them — possibly because of stigmas or embarrassment about their bodies, or just a general lack of awareness. Regardless, as an employer, you can help combat this issue and protect your employees’ health.

Unfortunately, roughly 30,000 women died from gynecological cancer in 2015, as the Foundation for Women’s Cancer reports. Additionally, more than 8,000 men were expected to be diagnosed with testicular cancer during the same year, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Routine screenings for breast and cervical cancer are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while testicular exams, according to the American Cancer Society, could help men catch testicular cancer early.

As an employer, you’re the primary gateway for accessing health insurance through your company, and thus, you have a voice in encouraging your employees to seek a reproductive cancer screening. Here’s how to get the conversation started:

Begin With a Cancer Awareness Campaign
You’ll be able to find informative brochures through your local American Cancer Society that help make the case for routine screenings. If you want to increase general cancer awareness, host a free lunch for your employees and invite a representative from the American Cancer Society to speak. Ask the representative to mention reproductive cancer screenings specifically.

You can also offer your employees a chance to give directly out of their paychecks. Ask your payroll representative to set up an automatic donation option to several cancer organizations.

Look Into Off-Site Fundraising
Nearly all of your employees will know someone affected by breast cancer. Create a fundraising team for an upcoming breast cancer walk in your city. If you have a wellness program that includes a fitness component, use the walk as a training target for increasing physical activity. In order to encourage participation, ask an employee to share a personal story about how breast cancer has touched his or her life.

Organizations such as the Foundation for Women’s Cancer and the Prostate Cancer Foundation are constantly searching for new groups that are willing to increase awareness and raise funds. Adding these organizations to your paycheck donation recipient list allows your employees to give discreetly to a gender-specific cause. You can also set up an office-wide day of service at a local cancer walk, or see if any of the nearby health care branches need volunteers for an afternoon.

Offer an Incentive for a Reproductive Cancer Screening
To encourage screenings, employers can offer incentives such as gift cards, extra vacation days and drawings for larger prizes. Although the effectiveness of financial incentives has been studied in the American Journal of Managed Care and debated by U.S. News & World Report, such a program is likely to promote an open conversation and increase general awareness among your employees.

Incentive programs are common within wellness programs, but still have to conform to privacy and disability laws. For example, you can’t post the names of the employees who have participated but you can post the percentage of staff members who are eligible for the prize. Ask your human resource manager to supervise any health-related incentives.

By normalizing the conversation, you’ll help your employees to share their own stories and therefore encourage others to seek a cancer screening. Of course, any conversations about reproductive parts can quickly veer off course, so it’s important to keep them on track. Personal conversations in the workplace are completely normal, as long as they remain civil and dignified — don’t let the threat of a crass comment prevent you from encouraging your staff to seek cancer screenings. Their lives may depend on it.

Dylan Murray has an MBA from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in communication from Boston University. He is a licensed insurance agent in California, but he works as a professional researcher and writer reporting on business trends in estate law, insurance and private security. Dylan has worked as a script analyst with the Sundance Institute and the Scriptwriters Network in Los Angeles. He lives in San Diego, California, and Marseille, France.