What are Cancer Screenings?
Every year in NYS, more than 25,000 people are diagnosed with breast, cervical, or colon cancer. These cancers can be found early or prevented through screening tests. Screenings can find cancers early when they may be easier to treat, or some cancers, before they start. Examples of cancer screenings are: mammograms, Pap smears, fecal tests, and colonoscopies
Finding cancer early can save lives, as treatment is most likely to be successful. Individuals may not get their recommended cancer screening for reasons such as:
- Do not have enough sick time;
- Appointments are only available during traditional office hours and they are not able to leave work; and/or
- Not have time to miss work/employment, afraid to use sick time for preventative care.
What is a Paid Time Off Benefit for Cancer Screenings?
Similar to sick, vacation, or personal leave, paid time off (PTO) for cancer screenings can help employees be up to date with their recommended screenings for cancers such as breast, cervical, and colorectal. Employers can adopt their own organizational policy allowing employees to take paid time off for cancer screenings. In NYS, public employees are already provided four hours of PTO for any cancer screenings.
A paid time off benefit for cancer screening is important because it alleviates a significant barrier to cancer screenings. Employees do not need to choose between a potentially life-saving screening and a paycheck. In fact, employees are more likely to get screened for cancer than employees without paid time off.,  In addition, employees getting cancer screenings can reduce health care costs related to cancer. In fact, cancer is one of the top five most costly diseases in the United States: it leads to substantial work loss, number of work days lost, and absenteeism costs.  Cancer is estimated to cost a business more than $1,600 in lost productivity per year for each employee diagnosed. 
Did You Know…?
- Nearly 90% of NY adults support a policy that would require employers to offer employees paid leave for cancer screenings. 
- Cancer is the second leading cause of death in New York State. 
- 1 in 5 cancer deaths in NYS are caused by breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. 
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in NYS. 
- Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women. 
- Nationwide, screening for colon cancer over the last three decades has helped to lower deaths from this disease in both men and women. 
Cancer Screenings in the Pandemic
- Essential businesses remained open
- Supporting essential workers health should be a priority
- More than ever it’s important to support employee health (flu, covid vaccines, sun safety and cancer screenings)
- Despite the challenges of the pandemic, cancer screening remains a public health priority.
- Many individuals delayed care during this time which may have led to missed and advanced cancer diagnosis which may now require more intense levels of care.
- Millennials, the fastest growing workforce population, with a behavioral health condition are at twice the risk of having a chronic physical condition and the COVID-19 pandemic could further impact the health of this generation. A cancer screening paid time off benefit could help combat these physical conditions by finding cancer early when it is most successful to treat.