Are you a pro when it comes to monthly breast self-examinations but jittery about getting screened? Here’s how to overcome that first-time anxiety when you go for your screening test.
Breast cancer holds the dubious distinction of being the number one cancer among women in Singapore. Yet, based on the recent National Population Health Survey 2020, only two in five women are up-to-date with their screening mammogram. How about you? How much do you know about screening programmes in Singapore?
Getting that appointment is as simple as calling your nearest Polyclinic, and it is even subsidised! The subsidised screening costs only $50 for Singaporeans ($37.50 for Merdeka Generation $25 for Pioneer Generation) and $75 for Permanent Residents, and you can even use your Medisave at approved centres.
Related: Breast Cancer Screening Subsidies
Feeling some first-timer anxiety? Here are five tips on getting yourself psyched up and ready to go:
Know that you’re doing the right thing. Each year between 2013 and 2017, 69 out of every 100,000 women in Singapore were diagnosed with breast cancer.
The good news is that the earlier it is detected, the higher your chances of surviving breast cancer. The mammogram is still the most reliable screening tool for breast cancer, spotting suspicious areas even before they can be felt by hand, and is most effective for women between the ages of 50 and 70.
Related: Make a Commitment to get Screened for Better Health This Year
A large part of being prepared is about managing your anxiety — those niggling questions and the I-wonder-ifs that keep you awake at night. Don’t fret: all the info you need, from what to expect to what to wear, can be found from the ABCs of screening and HPB’s FAQs on Screen for Life.
It is also helpful to talk to someone who has gone through the screening before or even your doctor.
Will it hurt? Well, different people have different thresholds of pain but generally, some discomfort is to be expected because compression of the breast is necessary for a clear image. If it really worries you, just share that with the radiographer when you get there. You can be sure that she’s not only adept at handling her equipment but also at handling uneasy patients, too.
Related: FAQs on Screening
Why not go with someone? It will lighten the mood and keep you relaxed. Better yet, make it a girls’ day out and get screened together with a bunch of friends, especially if they have never been before. This could be the excuse everyone needs to meet up, and you’ll be doing everyone’s health a favour.
There is usually a good range of breast cancer awareness events happening, from talks to walks, and ways you can volunteer, too. Check out the Breast Cancer Foundation’s or the Singapore Cancer Society’s calendars. You might be inspired to develop a healthier lifestyle and get a fresh outlook on life. Go spread the word!
Whether it’s a ten-minute delay at the screening venue or the two weeks until the results are known, for some ladies any wait can be tortuous. Stay level-headed by keeping yourself busy with things you enjoy, so that your mind doesn’t dwell on the screening outcome.
Knowing these facts can help:
Making the decision to stay calm ahead of the process will help you to be patient and rational when the time comes.
Related: The ABCs of Health Screening
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This article was last reviewed on
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
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Screen for Life (SFL) is the national screening programme by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) that offers Singaporeans and Permanent Residents health screening recommendations based on age and gender.
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