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Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. Nearly 300,000 cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. in one year, and more than 40,000 people diagnosed pass away.

But there is hope: 65% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage, when the cancer has not progressed outside the breasts. The 5-year relative survival rate for patients diagnosed early is 99%. More than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors live in the U.S. alone.

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in American women. But as more women become aware of the signs, it’s possible to help before the cancer spreads throughout the body. Awareness is crucial, and that’s why October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Understanding the Facts About Breast Cancer

Even if men make up the majority of your workforce, it’s important to support women in getting regular check-ups for signs of breast cancer. Self-examinations are also important, resulting in women receiving life-saving medical care early in the course of disease.

Although it isn’t talked about much, men also get breast cancer. More than 2,500 American men get the diagnosis in an average year, and about 500 die. Social stigma and simple lack of information are among the reasons a disproportionate number of men don’t receive treatment in time.

Unlike some other common cancers such as skin cancer and lung cancer, there are few lifestyle factors that contribute to breast cancer. Genetic predisposition is a major issue, and about one in eight women (12.5%) in the U.S. will be diagnosed at some stage of their lives.

A handful of lifestyle factors have been proven to affect breast cancer risk:

  • Lack of Physical Activity: A sedentary lifestyle elevates breast cancer risk
  • Overweight or Obesity: Weight is a more significant factor after menopause
  • Hormonal Medications: Risk may rise with supplemental estrogen and progesterone
  • Alcohol Use: Regular consumption of alcohol is connected to many serious health risks

How Your Company Can Help with Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast cancer is not a topic most people want to discuss with their boss. But you can use the resources of your business to make a positive difference for those at risk. Consider these possibilities when you’re reviewing your compensation and benefits strategy:

1. Ensure Your Health Insurance Plan Covers Breast Cancer Care

When someone is facing a breast cancer diagnosis, thoughts of going bankrupt in treatment are sure to follow. As a leader, your willingness to ask your plan provider the tough questions about breast cancer treatment availability can literally save the lives of those on your team.

2. Introduce an Employee Wellness Plan

Activity, weight, and wellness habits like alcohol abstinence may not be the biggest factors in breast cancer risk, but they can still make a positive difference. Employee wellness plans that incentivize a healthy lifestyle can provide the extra motivation needed to make lasting change.

3. Make Breast Cancer Awareness Facts Available

Vetted breast cancer awareness material is available from a wide variety of sources. You may be able to access it through your Human Resources department’s industry associations. Sharing this information in a discreet, conscientious way in appropriate places may help.

4. Review Your Paid Leave and Disability Policies

Cancer treatment using chemotherapy is disruptive to the body and can cause painful side effects that may limit the ability to work. While it’s impossible to plan for the worst case scenarios, verify that your temporary disability and leave policies protect your employees 

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