Ways to encourage a loved one to get a cancer screening

GEHA | February 2, 2022

Health and wellness
Encouraging loved ones to get regular cancer screenings may help save their life.
One in three people will receive a cancer diagnosis, according to the American Cancer Society. Receiving regular cancer screenings is one way to decrease risk or increase the likelihood of successful treatment. There are many reasons why people are hesitant to get cancer screenings, but encouraging loved ones to receive regular screenings may help save their life.

Here are some ways to have a productive conversation with a friend or loved one about getting screened:

Be supportive, positive and empathetic. Ask your loved one if he or she has considered scheduling a screening and try to relate to the response. Once you know what is preventing your them from getting screened, try to help reduce the obstacle. 

Focus on the potential benefits. Discuss the benefits of finding cancer early and risks of waiting too long. Educate them about how the science has advanced and talk about different screening options. You may also want to provide follow-up messages with links to resources, so they can do their own research.

Remind them you care and that they are not alone. Let your loved one know they are not the only person getting screened and try to connect them with a friend who has recently been screened. Share your own experience getting screened. Finally, remind your loved one you are having this conversation because you care and you want them to be around for as long as possible.

Let the information sink in. If you feel like the conversation is no longer productive or that your loved one needs time to think things over, walk away and let them reach their own conclusion. Give them space and time to consider what you’ve shared and sift through the resources provided. Before doing this, re-emphasize how much the person means to you and offer your support, regardless of the decision reached.

If you are still having trouble finding the right words or approach, the medical team at VeryWell Health have a free, online conversation coach that can guide you through some of the right things to say – and what to avoid as well.

Remember, while you are talking with a loved one, don’t forget to stay current on your own cancer screenings. Talk to your physician about your personal risk factors for any form of cancer or other disease. Some screenings may require a referral. If you don’t have a primary care physician, use GEHA’s Find Care tool to locate an in-network provider and/or radiology facility.

GEHA covers preventive health screenings at 100% for in-network providers.

The American Cancer Society has a quick reference guide on recommended screenings, questions to ask your doctor and other resources. Read more about breast and cervical cancer and colorectal cancer on GEHA’s blog.

Sources:
“10 ways to encourage loved ones to get screened for colorectal cancer.” ccalliance.org, Colorectal Cancer Alliance, 22 April, 2019.

“What’s the most effective way to encourage friends and family members to get screened for cancer?” goodrx.com, Good RX Health, 26 May, 2021.

“How do I talk to a friend or loved one about getting screened for lung cancer.” lung.org, American Lung Association, 15 April, 2020.

“Get screened.” cancer.org, American Cancer Society.

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