12 June 2024

Global employers must ensure all employees receive appropriate screening

 Cervical screening awareness week 17 - 23 June 2024

As Cervical Screening Awareness Week approaches it is important for global employers to understand how provision differs by country, that not all countries offer screening, and the impact this may have on employees, according to Towergate Health & Protection.

Sarah Dennis, head of international at Towergate Health & Protection, says: “Early diagnosis is key to tackling cancer, and screening is a valuable tool in this process. While most developed countries have programmes for cancer screening, the types of cancer, target population, frequency and methods of screening varies hugely.”

For instance, figures released in 2023 show that 70% of women in the UK aged 20-69 had cervical cancer screening within the past three years at the time of surveying. However, this was as low as 26% in Hungary, 12% in Poland and 3% in Costa Rica. In the UK, 64% of women aged 50-69 had mammography screening within the past two years at the time of surveying. This rises to 83% in Denmark, but is less than 30% in the Slovak Republic, Turkey, and Mexico.1

While many countries may be lagging behind in the screening of some cancers, others do not screen for certain cancers at all. For example, in Germany and Austria, prostate cancer screening is available for all men aged over 45 years. However, there is currently no national screening programme for prostate cancer in Canada, Australia, France or the UK.2

Even in the countries where national cancer screening programmes are provided, the pandemic has caused severe backlogs, and the impacts of the delays are expected to be long-lasting.3 The answer is for employers to provide cancer screening tests as part of health and wellbeing support – to all relevant employees, regardless of where they are based in the world.

Targeting cancer screening

It is important for employers to ensure that cancer screening is targeted towards the appropriate staff demographics. For this, employers should take expert advice, as different screening will be relevant to different people, based on a variety of factors including, age, sex, and risk factors.

Encouraging take up

For overseas employees in particular, ensuring the right messages get through to encourage take-up will be vital. Regular communications, targeted to the right demographics will be important, along with making access easy for employees to book their screening tests, many of which can be carried out by taking a simple test at home.

Sarah Dennis says: “Many cancers are curable if discovered and treated promptly. Employers must ensure that all employees, in all locations, have access to appropriate screening.”