Breast Cancer – Why Helping Employees Attend Screening Appointments Matters

Breast cancer remains a significant public health issue in the UK. Highlighting the importance of screening can have substantial benefits for both individuals and organizations.

Why should I care about breast cancer screening?

Here are the latest statistics and reasons why encouraging your employees to get screened is crucial:

  1. Incidence and Mortality:
    • Annually, around 55,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the UK, making it the most common cancer in women​ (Cancer Research UK)​​ (NHS England)​.
    • Approximately 11,500 women die from breast cancer each year, making it the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the UK​ (Cancer Research UK)​.
  2. Prevalence and Survival Rates:
    • The five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer is about 98%. However, this drops significantly for those diagnosed at later stages​ (Breast Cancer Now)​.
    • An estimated 691,000 women in the UK were living with breast cancer as of 2018​ (Cancer Research UK)​.
  3. Economic Impact:
    • Breast cancer is projected to cost the UK economy between £2.6 billion and £2.8 billion in 2024, with potential costs rising to £3.6 billion by 2034 if current trends continue. These costs include medical expenses, productivity losses, and individual financial burdens​ (Breast Cancer Now)​.
  4. Screening and Early Detection:
    • Early detection through regular screenings can significantly improve treatment outcomes and survival rates. The NHS Breast Screening Programme detected cancer in 18,942 women in 2022-23, many of which might not have been diagnosed until later stages without screening​ (NHS England)​.
    • Despite the importance of screening, over a third of women did not attend their appointments in 2022-23. Increasing awareness and encouraging attendance is crucial​ (NHS England)​.

The JG HR Pledge

While the survival rates for these common cancers are good if caught early, unfortunately many women are not given time off to attend screening appointments and worse, they forget to let the clinic know they can’t make it, so it is too late to offer the appointment to another woman.  Screenings can pick up small tumours that are deep in tissue and would not be detected by sight or touch, but it’s easy both for women and employers to ignore or put off an appointment for a problem that you can’t see.

The JG HR Pledge, started by award-winning HR Consultant and breast cancer survivor Julie Grabham, is hoping to change all that.

Having had her life saved through attending a screening appointment, which found stage 2 breast cancer, Julie decided she would use her high profile in the HR world to ask employers to consider pledging to give their employees paid time off to attend cancer screenings.

By signing the pledge, employers get a certificate, as well as resources from cancer charities to help employees learn more and gain more support.  Of course, the biggest possible reason to sign is that it could literally save a life.

It’s become Julie’s mission to save the lives of other women – and it’s working.  Over 130 employers of all sizes have signed the pledge and made a commitment to prevent this very treatable cancer from taking women’s lives.

While the benefits of saving the lives of women is an achievement in itself, Julie has also received a special award from CIPD Wales.

The Pledge is completely free to sign, but here are some other reasons to support your employees to attend screening appointments:

Why Encouraging Your Employees to Attend Screening Appointments Makes Sense

  1. Health Benefits:
    • Early detection through regular screenings saves lives. Employees diagnosed early have a higher chance of successful treatment and recovery.
  2. Economic Benefits:
    • Reducing the financial burden on both employees and employers. Early detection can lead to less time off work and lower overall healthcare costs.
  3. Workplace Morale:
    • Promoting a culture of health and wellness can boost employee morale and productivity. Employees feel valued and supported when their health is prioritized.
  4. Corporate Responsibility:
    • Demonstrating a commitment to employee health can enhance your company’s reputation and attract top talent.

Encouraging regular breast cancer screenings can have profound benefits for both individuals and organizations. By fostering a proactive health culture, companies can help reduce the impact of this prevalent disease and contribute to the well-being of their workforce.

For more detailed information on breast cancer statistics and the importance of screening, you can refer to sources from Cancer Research UK and NHS England​ (Cancer Research UK)​​ (NHS England)​.

To learn more and sign the JG HR Pledge, visit Julie’s website here: JG HR Pledge.  Julie also shares HR advice videos on her You Tube Channel.