Broome County Goes Blue! Blue Lights and Paid Time Off Policies Commemorate March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

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From the Broome County Health Department:

BINGHAMTON, NY – To kick off Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month on March 1st, the Broome County Health Department’s Community Cancer Prevention in Action Program (CPiA) collaborated with Security Mutual Life Insurance Company and the DoubleTree Hotel to light up their buildings in blue, showing community awareness around colorectal cancer prevention.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women in New York State. The good news is that if found early, colorectal cancer is very treatable and beatable.

In fact, it is one of two cancers that can be prevented through screening (the other is cervical cancer). Colorectal cancer almost always starts with a polyp – a small growth on the lining of the colon or rectum – but doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it’s more advanced.

Colorectal cancer screening can help find and remove polyps before they have the chance to turn into cancer.

All men and women ages 50 and older should talk to their doctor about specific screening recommendations, including which test or combination of testing is best for them and when to do it.  If someone in your family has had colon cancer or certain other conditions, you may need to start testing earlier than age 50.

In addition to increasing awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer prevention and early detection, Broome County CPiA has recently worked with two local employers who have adopted paid time off (PTO) policies dedicated specifically for the purpose of cancer screening.

“The Broome County YWCA and YMCA have become our community champions for Paid Time Off policies in the worksite,” stated Mary McFadden, Program Director for CPiA. “Billions of dollars in productivity are lost each year due to cancer and a paid time off benefit for cancer screening is important because it alleviates a significant barrier to cancer screenings.” 

Employees should not need to choose between a potentially life-saving screening and a paycheck. In fact, employees with paid time off benefits are more likely to get screened for cancer than employees without this benefit.

Furthermore, employees getting cancer screenings can reduce health care costs related to cancer. Cancer is one of the top five most costly diseases in the United States; it leads to substantial work loss, number of workdays lost, and absenteeism costs.

A cancer diagnosis is estimated to cost a business more than $1,600 in lost productivity per year for each employee diagnosed, so it is important to find cancer early through screening. NYS has already mandated public employers provide PTO for their employees.

“Your employees are valuable. If they’re out for a while due to illness or injury, everyone feels it,” remarked Carole Coppens, Executive Director of the YWCA.  “Aside from the workload becoming heavier, you’re also missing and worrying about a coworker and while not all illness or injury can be prevented, there is something an employer can do to help prevent cancer — put a paid time off for cancer screening policy in place,” said Gareth Sansom Executive Director of the YMCA.

No one individual or organization can be responsible for reducing the burden of cancer on their own. It is important that all sectors work together to conquer cancer. There are many resources available to assist: 

The Community Cancer Prevention in Action Program works with employers to help them develop a paid time off for cancer screening benefit allowing employees time off for screenings such as cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer.  To learn more about the CPiA Program, which is supported with funds from the State of New York, please contact Mary McFadden at (607) 778-3929, email:  mary.mcfadden@broomecounty.us or visit our website www.takeactionagainstcancer.com

The Southern Tier Cancer Services Program offers colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services at no cost to women and men who live in any county in New York State, do not have health insurance, have health insurance with a cost share that makes the cost of screening too high, and meet the program rules for age and income. For more information and to contact the Cancer Services Program go to: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/services/community_resources/ or call 1-866-442-CANCER (2262). 

The New York State Cancer Consortium invites individuals and organizations interested in addressing the burden of cancer in NYS, to join the Consortium and participate in critical committee and action team work that addresses the priority areas outlined in the  NYS 2018-2023 Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan , visit www.nyscancerconsortium.org to learn more.

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