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Colon cancer screenings are effective — but only if people get them

Colon cancer has an image problem. Rather, colon cancer screening has an image problem.

The phrase “I’d rather have a colonoscopy than …” has become a go-to for those looking to make a point about an undesirable activity. But few are saying the obvious: That they would rather have a colonoscopy — an uncomfortable but painless procedure that is one of the most sensitive tests to screen for colon cancer — than undergo treatment for colon cancer.1 Colonoscopies and other colorectal screening methods won’t kill anyone. Colon cancer itself? That’s a different story.

How common is colon cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women combined in the United States.2 While the risk of developing colorectal cancer in a lifetime is high, the rate at which people are being diagnosed has decreased since the mid-1980s. This is mainly because more people are getting screened and changing their lifestyle-related risk factors.2

However, of those diagnosed, the disease doesn’t strike equally. Indigenous communities have higher rates of colorectal cancer. Furthermore, Jews of Eastern European descent have one of the highest risks of colorectal cancer of any ethnic group in the world. Among the Black community, the risk is both widespread and elevated — Black Americans are more likely to develop colorectal cancer and have a higher likelihood to die from it than most other groups.3

Despite these differences, the biggest barrier shared by Americans at large is a lack of screening and preventive care.4

Colon cancer screening is crucial — but million of Americans have not been screened3

Between the “ew” factor of the most popular screenings — colonoscopies and stool tests — and misconceptions about personal risk, preventive care often gets pushed aside. While today more people are being screened, there are still around 20 million eligible Americans who have not been.3

One of the issues that keeps people from scheduling a screening — the fact that the earliest stages of colon cancer have few, if any, symptoms — is exactly why screening is essential.5 But screening rates plummeted during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. And though rates have largely rebounded, colorectal cancer screenings still need to increase by 50% to return to pre-pandemic levels.6

You can help protect your workforce with one simple step

The lack of screening adds up in a major way — colorectal cancer could cost thousands.7 That takes a toll on families struggling to find a way to cover out-of-pocket costs, years of treatment and recovery, and the mental strain associated with fighting a deadly condition.

Health insurance covers part of those costs, but even a well-designed plan can leave large gaps that need to be covered out of pocket. Offering cancer insurance to your workforce can give you and your employees added peace of mind, helping to ensure that if your employees are diagnosed with cancer, they can pay for treatment more easily and focus on recovery instead of mounting costs. But you can also offer them a more proactive form of protection — just by offering specific Aflac plans.

Some Aflac insurance plans — including cancer insurance, accident and hospital coverage — may include wellness benefits, paying your employees for out-of-pocket expenses that could include health screening tests performed as a part of preventive care such as diagnostic procedures like colonoscopies. And this protection can come at little or no cost to you.

You might not be able to get your workforce to shake off the jokes about colonoscopies. What you can do is give them an incentive to help make sure they receive proper preventive care … and a cushion of protection to help when they need it.

Ready to help protect your workforce against cancer? Contact your Aflac benefits advisor or visit

Offer Aflac to your employees.

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