Colon Cancer Awareness

Colon Cancer Awareness Month – The Importance of Colonoscopies

03/05/2024 Written by: AP Employee Benefits

Colon cancer diagnoses are on the rise across the United States, and the disease is impacting younger patients than in previous years. According to new data from the American Cancer Society, over 106,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are expected in 2024, as well as an additional 46,000 cases of rectal cancer. As colon cancer continues to be a large contributor to the overall U.S. cancer diagnoses, many employers are looking for ways to help identify and treat this disease early. As a health plan sponsor, employers can encourage employees and their dependents to take preventative action against this disease.

The Impact on Healthcare Spend

According to the CDC, the annual medical costs associated with colorectal cancer amounted to $14.1 billion. Those diagnosed with cancer can have a great impact on an employer’s healthcare spend; in fact, colon-related cancers and diseases amounted to an average of two to three times the annual employee healthcare spend, according to a report from fightcancer.org. The same study also indicated that younger people with a history of colon cancer spend an average of $2,123 annually on out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. These diagnoses can have significant financial impact on both employee and employer, with the average colon cancer claim coming in at over $8,000. Finances aside, the impact of colon cancer on employee absence and productivity can also be deeply felt with the average employee being off the job for 100 days due to a colon cancer diagnosis.

The Importance of Regular Screenings

Recently, the suggested age regular colon cancer screenings was dropped to 45 years old. This age suggestion can change based on an individual’s specific risk factors for the development of colon cancer including family history, related chronic conditions and previous environmental exposures to things such as radiation. Luckily, with new advancements in screening technology, at-home testing has become available for a large portion of the population with average risk, making preventative screening quick and convenient.

Lifestyle Changes for Your Population

As a health plan sponsor, employers are in a unique position to impact the efforts of their population to reduce their overall risk for colon cancer. Studies have also shown that certain lifestyle changes can have an impact on an individual's potential risk of developing colon cancer. Here are some ways to support your population as they work to reduce their colon cancer risk:

  • Remind employees throughout the year of the importance of preventative screenings.
  • Consider implementing wellness reward programs to incentivize preventative screenings and other healthy behaviors.
  • Encourage employees to maintain or adopt active lifestyles to establish and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Promoting employees to create a healthy diet habit and eating patterns including a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Provide access to at-home testing options through third-party point solutions.

For more information on National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and for additional resources to share with your population, visit the Colorectal Cancer Alliance online. As your organization looks to support the health and wellness journeys of your employees, reach out to your AssuredPartners team for more information on tried-and-true population health management and wellness strategies that may be a good fit for your employees.

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