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Press announcement

Workplace Strategies to Promote Early Cancer Detection and Prevention

As World Cancer Day is fast approaching, International SOS emphasises the growing importance of early detection and prevention of cancer in corporate health strategies.

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As World Cancer Day is fast approaching, International SOS, the world's leading health and security risk services company, emphasises the growing importance of early detection and prevention of cancer in corporate health strategies. While cancer remains a significant global health burden, proactive measures evidently reduce mortality rates. Recent data suggests that at least 40% of all cancer cases reported could be prevented through effective primary prevention measures.1

Workplace environment and working hours can have a profound influence on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of employees.2 Individuals spend a substantial portion of their lives at work, some potentially exposed to risk factors such as hazardous materials, long working hours, or cigarette smoke. Workplace habits can also contribute to physical inactivity and unhealthy eating patterns3, both known risk factors for cancer. Consequently, the workplace can play a critical role in shaping health habits and mitigating cancer risks.

While genetics are likely to play a part in the rise of cancer cases in young people, experts suggest that smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity are key risk factors. Based on trends over the past three decades, researchers estimate that in 2030, the global number of new early onset cancer cases will rise by 31%, while associated deaths will increase by 21%. Individuals in their 40s are predicted be the most at risk.4

Dr Kate O’Reilly, Medical Director at International SOS, comments

For many, the fight against cancer often emphasises post-diagnosis care, management, or treatment after it manifests. World Cancer Day serves as a crucial reminder of the impact of cancer and the potential for proactive intervention. Prioritising cancer awareness, accessible screening and prevention programmes isn’t just beneficial for individual employees, it demonstrably benefits organisations as well. These initiatives can lead to a healthier workforce, potentially reducing absenteeism and fostering a more engaged and productive work environment.
Dr O’Reilly adds
Simple, yet impactful, workplace changes, such as promoting healthy food options and encouraging regular exercise, can significantly reduce cancer risks. Integrating these elements into corporate health programmes empowers employees to become active participants in their own wellbeing. It allows them to take charge of their health and potentially mitigate cancer risks.

International SOS outlines some strategies to mitigate cancer risk for employees and how organisations can strengthen their workplace support:

  1. Provide education and awareness: Educate employees about common cancer risks, warning signs and available resources. Host regular workshops and information campaigns to empower employees to be proactive about their health and seek prompt medical attention if they notice any potential symptoms.
  2. Encourage regular screening: Early diagnosis of cancer nearly always results in better treatment outcomes. Ensure employees’ health benefits cover key screenings and that your organisation’s policy makes screenings feasible. Encourage employees to take time off for their annual medical exam.
  3. Promote healthy habits: Provide access to healthy food options in your organisation’s cafeteria and onsite vending machines. Implement initiatives such as wellness programmes, step challenges and discounted gym memberships to encourage physical activity and healthy eating habits.
  4. Encourage open communication: Create a safe and supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing cancer concerns and accessing resources. Offer confidential counselling services through Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).
  5. Conduct a workplace assessment: Analyse potential workplace hazards that might increase cancer risk, such as exposure to carcinogens. Implement control measures to minimise risks and promote a healthy working environment. Modern office work may also contribute directly to three cancer risk factors, including excess body weight, diet and physical inactivity.
  6. Implement a smoke-free workplace: 25% of all cancer deaths are caused by tobacco use and providing employees with smoking-cessation support helps reduce the risk.5 Enact a strict smoke-free policy to protect employees from second-hand smoke, a significant cancer risk factor.
  7. Provide holistic care and support: Extend employee assistance programmes to include cancer-specific resources. Offer access to counselling, financial planning assistance and support groups throughout the cancer journey.


1. World Health Organization | International Agency for Research on Cancer | Cancer Topics
2. International Labour Organization | Working Time and Work-Life Balance Around the World
3. Institute for Employment Studies | Cancer & Employment Report 2022
4. The University of Edinburgh | Global Surge in Cancer Cases Among Under 50s
5. World Health Organization | World Cancer Day: Know the Facts – Tobacco and Alcohol Both Cause Cancer

About the International SOS Group of Companies
The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.

Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by more than 9,000 organisations, including the majority of the Fortune 500, as well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 13,000 multicultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,200 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days.

To protect your workforce, we are at your fingertips: www.internationalsos.com