Some of America’s largest corporations are taking the adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” to heart. The CEO Cancer Gold Standard is one of the first programs to come out of the CEO Roundtable of Cancer—a group of business leaders who pledged to reduce the number of cancer deaths. The program requires corporations to implement measures to prevent cancer and provide quality treatment to patients.
Programs include tobacco-cessation initiatives, no tobacco in the workplace, insurance coverage of smoking cessation programs, strategies to improve employees’ diet and nutrition, exercise, early cancer screenings and access to cancer treatments and clinical trials. Statistics show that preventive measures and early cancer screenings could reduce cancer deaths among employees and save corporations billions of dollars in lost productivity.
This year, several pharmaceutical companies and the American Cancer Society have become accredited and currently provide the program to over a quarter of a million employees. The Standard is expected to have as many as 20 additional accredited corporations by 2008.
Other programs are focused on helping employees once they are diagnosed with cancer.
Managing Through Cancer, a program offered by Cancer and Careers, an information resource for women working through cancer, offers employees, management and human resource departments legal information, support services and tips on communication and how to balance cancer and work successfully. The program includes a public website that has basic information for managers, but also a membership-based initiative called Managing Through Cancer Pioneer for companies who want to take a greater role in supporting their employees.
“The program's goal is to fill the gap between what companies think their employers want when they are diagnosed with cancer and what the employees really want. At the heart of the program is a set of eight guiding principles that companies can follow that were taken from major concerns of patients,” says Kate Sweeney, executive director of Cancer and Careers. “The program also provides tools, information and a community of member companies who can look to each other to discuss different situations and share best practices."
The idea is for the pioneer members to help set a standard and raise the bar in how to support their employees with cancer, Sweeney says.