Need Cancer Screening? Where You Work Matters

From - October 13, 2017

Need Cancer Screening? Where You Work Matters

FRIDAY, Oct. 13, 2017 -- Waiters, contractors and other employees of America's small businesses are more likely to miss out on cancer screening, mostly because of a lack of insurance, new research shows.

"Workers employed at smaller organizations had substantially lower breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening rates" compared to people working at larger corporations or organizations, American Cancer Society (ACS) researchers reported.

And poorer insurance coverage accounted for much of these differences, said the team led by ACS researcher Stacey Fedewa.

One breast cancer specialist who reviewed the findings said the issue is an important one, because mammograms, colonoscopies and other screens can save lives -- not to mention health care dollars.

So it's crucial to "find ways to ensure that workers in smaller companies have access to health care," said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "This is a complicated problem, as some smaller businesses cannot afford to provide insurance to their workers due to the rising cost of premiums."

In the new report, the ACS team tracked 2010, 2013 and 2015 federal government data. The investigators found that, overall, screening rates for U.S. workers were 84 percent for cervical cancer, about 69 percent for breast cancer and 57 percent for colon cancer.

But those numbers fell precipitously for employees at companies with fewer than 25 workers -- they were much less likely be screened than those at companies with 500 or more workers.

Fedewa's team also found that people in food service, construction, production and sales occupations were less likely to be up to date with cervical screening (26 percent less likely), breast screening (28 percent) and colon cancer screening (30 percent) than people working in the health care industry, for example.

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