Spotlight on Health
When was the last time you had a cancer screening?
If you have not seen your doctor in a while, HMSA encourages you to make an appointment
with your doctor to discuss cancer screenings. Discussing which preventive health
screenings you need with your doctor is important for your wellness. If you don’t
have a doctor, call HMSA’s Customer Service and they can provide you with
a list of participating providers in your network.
HMSA strongly recommends that you get screened for breast, cervical and colorectal
cancer. Here’s what you need to know.
Since there are often no visible symptoms for colorectal cancer, men and women should
have routine colorectal cancer screenings starting at age 50. Your doctor may recommend
being screened earlier or more often if you have certain risk factors for the disease.
Recommended screening tests include:
- A fecal occult blood test checks for blood in the stool. It should
be performed every year.
- During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, a doctor inserts a short, thin,
lighted tube into the rectum to check for polyps or changes in the rectum and lower
colon. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends that it
be performed every five years.
- A colonoscopy is similar to a sigmoidoscopy, except a longer tube
checks the entire colon. The CDC recommends that it be performed every 10 years.
Help stop this cancer before it starts. If you’re 50 or older, check with
your doctor about the appropriate screening and timing for you. Visit WebMD’s
website for more information on
One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her life; 70 percent of these women
have no known risk factors for the disease. Women over 40 should talk to their doctor
and make an informed decision about whether mammography is appropriate based on
their family history and general health. Women should have a mammogram every two
years starting at age 50.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that’s used to check for abnormalities
in the breast tissue. Mammograms can help detect tumors or other cysts that may
indicate the presence of breast cancer.
When found early, breast cancer is highly treatable and chances of survival are
best. Visit WebMD for more information on
breast cancer and mammograms.
According to the CDC, six out of 10 cervical cancer cases occur in women who have never
received a Pap smear or have not been tested in the past five years. In Hawaii,
most women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer are over age 50.
A Pap smear checks for changes in the cells of the cervix and is one of the most
reliable and effective cancer screening tests available.
Women should begin getting Pap smears at age 21 or within three years of the start
of sexual activity, whichever happens first. Once you have had three consecutive
annual Pap smears with normal results, it is usually recommended that you get a
Pap smear every three years.
Visit WebMD for more information on
Tips to Remember
- If you do not have a doctor or do not
know who your doctor is, call HMSA’s Customer Service for assistance.
- Talk with your doctor about which cancer screenings you should receive,
how often, and at what age.
- Always follow up with your doctor if your test results are not
- Make a commitment to yourself and your loved ones by scheduling
a screening appointment with your doctor today.
- Tell someone you care about that cancer screenings can and do save
Cancer screenings are a covered benefit of most HMSA health plans. Refer to your
Guide to Benefits for your specific plan details.
Learn more about colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screenings.