a partnership for lung cancer screening awareness

Anna Koethe
Marvin Buenconsejo
November 22, 2023

At HMSA, we’re here with you. And often times, that means partnering up with other like-minded organizations to meet folks like you where you’re at – like your local YMCA – to share vital health information.

“We want people to feel supported in their health journeys and feel like they can come to HMSA, Hawaii Pacific Health, and the YMCA all as health organizations to help them manage their care and to answer questions,” says HMSA Vice President of Corporate Strategy Emily Oshima Lee. “Whether it’s about their health insurance and how confusing that can be or about when you should think about getting screened for different cancers and how to really take care of your health, we want people to know that we’re here to support them.”

Annually, Lung Cancer Awareness Month is observed in November to raise awareness about the crucial importance of lung cancer screening. We joined our partners at Hawaii Pacific Health for a day of education and outreach at the Nuuanu YMCA to provide health resources and in-person support.

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and in Hawaii,” says Hawaii Pacific Health Director of Imaging Keith Miyashiro. “If you're a smoker and you're between the ages of 50 and 80 and are still smoking or have ever smoked up to 15 years ago, you're eligible for lung cancer screening, which is covered by most insurance companies, including HMSA and Medicare.”

Health insurance providers require a person to meet three criteria to be screened for lung cancer. They must:

  • Be 50 to 80 years old and in fairly good health.
  • Currently smoke or have quit in the past 15 years.
  • Have at least a 20 pack-year smoking history. (This is the number of packs of cigarettes per day multiplied by the number of years smoked. For example, someone who smoked two packs a day for 10 years [2 x 10 = 20] has 20 pack-years of smoking, as does a person who smoked one pack a day for 20 years [1 x 20 = 20].)

Miyashiro advises that if you meet the criteria above, “Be sure to contact your primary care provider to schedule a screening.”

Lung screenings can be lifesaving. According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms in the early stages and some people don’t experience symptoms at all. Screenings are critical to identifying lung cancer early, which is when it’s most treatable.

“HPH is committed to working with our community to uphold our mission, which is creating a healthier Hawaii. We also look to our community partners like HMSA, YMCA, and other industry leaders to give us a chance to educate the public about mammography, lung screening, and other types of health maintenance,” adds Miyashiro.

“This is what the YMCA and HPH and HMSA are all here to do, to support community and be a place for everyone to come together to support their health and support each other,” says YMCA of Honolulu Director of Philanthropy Grace Ballard.

“We're just really grateful to our HMSA team and our partners for helping us make this happen, and we're thinking about what other types of events and topics we can collaborate on,” says Oshima Lee.

For the latest information on upcoming health education events and workshops, be sure to visit hmsa.com and islandscene.com/events.

To learn more about lung cancer screenings and other chest and lung conditions care from Hawaii Pacific Health, visit the Straub Lung Center.

Other cancer screening and resources
For more stories on cancer screening and prevention resources, check out:

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Hear from a lung cancer survivor and how screenings and detection saved his life. A Straub Medical Center pulmonologist discusses risk factors, symptoms, and screening resources.

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Colon cancer incidence rates have dropped 30% in the U.S. in the last 10 years among adults 50 and older thanks to early screening. Learn more about the benefits.

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Michelle Stefanov never imagined that a routine mammogram would lead to a diagnosis of stage 2 breast cancer. Follow her journey to becoming cancer-free and learn about breast cancer risk factors and prevention from Naoto Ueno, M.D., Ph.D.

cervical cancer 101: facts and prevention
Cervical cancer is preventable with regular screenings and follow-up. It also is highly curable when found and treated early.

testicular cancer: common in young men
We talked to Alex Belshoff, M.D., a urologist, about what testicular cancer is, when to see your doctor, treatment options, risks, and side effects.

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