Women aged 50 and above should be screened regularly for breast cancer

Have You Gone for Your Mammogram Screening?

Breast cancer holds the dubious distinction of being the number one cancer among women in Singapore. Yet, a recent survey by the Breast Cancer Foundation has revealed that up to 27 percent of women here have never done any checks at all, while 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?

Polyclinic Mammograms Are Subsidised

Getting that appointment is as simple as calling your nearest Polyclinic, and it is even subsidised! The subsidised screening costs only $50 for Singaporeans ($25 for Pioneer Generation), and you can even use your Medisave at approved centres.

Related: Breast & Cervical Cancer Screening Subsidies

Feeling some first-timer anxiety? Here are five tips on getting yourself psyched up and ready to go:

1. Be Convinced on why you are going for a mammogram

Woman booking a clinical breast examination by a senior consultant online

Know that you’re doing the right thing. Each year between 2011 and 2015, 65 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

2. Be Prepared for your mammogram

Elderly woman learning more about a breast ultrasound.

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

3. Bring a Friend with you when you go for your mammogram

Two elderly women encouraging each other to go for mammogram 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.

4. Get Involved

Pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. Regular screening can catch cancer in its early stages

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!

Related: Support for Cancer Patients

5. Keep Calm and Carry On after receiving your mammogram results

Elderly woman taking a rest after getting screened for breast cancer

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:

  • No diagnostic test is 100% accurate. You may be instructed to get follow-up tests, such as a repeat mammogram and/or an ultrasound scan. A few cases may require a surgical biopsy for a firm diagnosis. For the most part, these subsequent tests will be clear.
  • 9 out of 10 breast lumps are not cancerous. Do not worry unnecessarily.
  • There is a sound variety of options to treat breast cancer nowadays, and survival rates have increased significantly.

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

Staying Ahead with Regular Mammogram Screenings

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Your mammogram appointment shouldn’t be something to dread; rather, think of it as a required check-up as routine as your usual dentals.

Regular mammogram screening every two years helps detect breast cancer early and early detection saves lives. Why wait? Get yourself and your loved ones screened today.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.


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References

  1. Singapore Cancer Society. (n.d.). Breast Cancer Awareness Month [Website].
    Retrieved October 2017 from https://www.singaporecancersociety.org.sg/events/calendar/breast-cancer/breast-cancer-awareness-month.html

  2. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (n.d.). Mammogram [Website].
    Retrieved October 2017 from URL

  3. Breast Cancer Foundation. (n.d.). Breast Cancer Foundation Charity Draw 2017 [Website].
    Retrieved October 2017 from https://bcf.org.sg/

  4. Jaya. (n.d.). Breast cancer screening in Singapore: Free and low cost places to get it done [Website].
    Retrieved October 2017 from https://sg.theasianparent.com/breast-cancer-screening-in-singapore/

  5. Choo, F. (2017, Oct 3). Few aware of breast cancer risks: Survey. The Straits Times.
    Retrieved October 2017 from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/few-aware-of-breast-cancer-risks-survey

  6. Health Promotion Board. (2017, Mar 16). Make a Commitment to Get Screened for Better Health This Year [Website].
    Retrieved October 2017 from https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/977/make-a-commitment-to-get-screened-for-better-health-this-year

  7. Health Promotion Board. (2016, Nov 18). Breast Cancer [Website].
    Retrieved October 2017 from https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/20/breastcancer