Making Cancer and Chronic Disease Screening Part of Your Small Business Wellness Program

Increasing rates of chronic disease such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease are a serious concern for Canadian employers, impacting employer costs such as absenteeism and employee benefits.

The good news is that many chronic diseases can be prevented or delayed through healthy lifestyle changes. Also, about half of all cancers can be prevented through healthy living and policies that protect the health of Canadians.

Unfortunatley, it’s hard to say why one person gets a disease such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, or cardiovascular disease, and another does not.

Reducing the Risk: It Starts with You

The possibility of getting cancer or another chronic disease is a real fear for many people, but there are things you can do to help reduce your risk, especially when juggling the demands and stressors of being a small business owner.

You can start by living a healthy lifestyle and taking charge of your health. For example:

  • Be a non-smoker and avoid tobacco smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet, be physically active every day and maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Reduce your exposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun or indoor tanning equipment like tanning beds
  • Know your body and report any changes to your doctor or dentist.

Once you’ve got a handle on your own health, you can also arm employees with knowledge and information to help them take charge of their health.

Support Employee Health by Encouraging Screening

Here are some suggestions for creating a supportive environment to enable employees to participate in appropriate screenings:

  • Offer flexible work hours to accommodate medical appointments for screening and medical exams.
  • Post information about early detection and screening on bulletin boards. Download information and handouts from the Early Detection and Screening module available through the WellnessFits Small Business Program.
  • Include information on the importance of early detection and screening of cancer in short articles for internal newsletters, staff e-mails or paycheque inserts.
  • Consider setting up a display or bulletin board where early detection and screening messages are easily accessible to employees. Order pamphlets from organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Diabetes Association, and Heart and Stroke Foundation. These pamphlets can usually be ordered free of charge.
  • Encourage employees to test their knowledge. Employees can take an online quiz by visiting the Early Detection and Screening module on the WellnessFits Small Business Program website.

For more tips and ideas on creating a healthy workplace for your employees and yourself, please visit