Large employers to launch multi-year “cancer in the workplace” initiative

According to a media release issued on Thursday this week, the National Business Group on  Health has been working with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) to develop and now launch a major, 3-year-long initiative to help employers address issues of cancer in the workplace. The project will be based around a series of comprehensive resources and tools for large employers, including an Employer’s Guide to Cancer Treatment and Prevention.

Specific elements of this 3-year project will include:

  • A 25-member National Advisory Committee
  • Quick reference resources that “will help employers determine whether their current benefits are consistent with evidence-based cancer care … consistent with recommended NCCN Guidelines”
  • An “Employer Cancer Health Benefits Toolkit” that addresses appropriate medical, pharmacy, and mental health benefits for the continuum of cancer care.
  • Companion guides for benefits managers and other strategic audiences, such as disability managers, that deal with such things as incidental absence, short- and long-term disability, family medical leave, and workers’ compensation and how they relate to the needs of cancer patients
  • Tools for employees on such topics as cancer survivorship, health promotion, and wellness, including fact sheets, information brochures, and other cancer-related literature

The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink is pleased to see the employer community taking such a strong interest in employee education and information around cancer in the workplace. Of course the availability of information and its actual uptake and use are two quite different things. We hope that the National Business Group on Health will also be tracking the actual use of these materials over a 3- to 5-year period after their introduction.

Given the high incidence and prevalence of prostate cancer and the key historic role of males as the “breadwinner” in many households (which continues to this day), we would hope that information on prostate cancer would be available through this initiative earlier rather than later.

It is worth noting that the NCCN recommends:

  • Offering PSA testing and DREs for early detection of prostate cancer to men of 40 and over after an explanation of and discussion about the pros and cons of such testing.
  • The use of active surveillance as an initial management strategy for a high percentage of men with a diagnosis of low- and very low-risk, localized prostate cancer and a life expectancy of 20 years or less.

The NCCN has started to develop and issue cancer-specific patient guidelines in recent months. As yet, however, no patient guidelines are available for prostate cancer.

For those who are unfamiliar with the National Business Group on Health, it is a “non-profit organization devoted exclusively to representing large employers’ perspective on national health policy issues and providing practical solutions to its members’ most important health care problems.” It evolved from an earlier organization known as the Washington Business Group on Health.

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