Breast Cancer Screening in Singapore
What is breast cancer screening?
Breast Cancer Screening involves checking a woman’s breasts for cancer before any signs or symptoms of the disease. Although Breast Cancer Screening cannot prevent Breast Cancer, it can find Breast Cancer earlier, leading to a better chance of treatment outcome. Speak to your doctor on the risks and benefits of screening, and decide with your doctor whether screening is needed for you.
MOH (Ministry of Health) recommends Breast Cancer Screening for different age groups of women in Singapore:
Ladies above the age of 50 – Mammogram screening every 2 years
Ladies age between 40-49 years old – Annual mammogram screening
Ladies below the age of 40 – No need for screening
Ladies who have risk factors, or any abnormal symptoms or concerns should speak to their doctor. Base on individual risk factors and concerns, you may be advised for a more frequent breast screening.
Although having risk factors increase your chances of having Breast Cancers, not having any of the risk factors does not mean immunity against Breast Cancers, hence the importance of breast screening.
How can I protect myself from Breast Cancer?
Every female above the age of 30 should examine their own breast once a month, ideally a week after menses.
Methods as below:
- Stand in front of the mirror, look for asymmetry of the size and shape of breasts, nipples, and any skin changes
- Repeat Step 1 in different positions, such as as
with your arms raised above your head, hands on the hip, and turning slowly sideways
- In a standing position, using your fingers, feel your breast tissues in circular, organized motion outwards to inwards.
- In a standing position, using your fingers, feel underneath your armpits for any abnormal lumps.
- In a standing position, gently squeeze your nipple to look for any abnormal discharge or bleeding.
- Repeat Step 3-5 while in a lying position.
Regular Follow up with your doctor
A mammogram is an X-ray procedure that may cause some discomfort. The radiographer will place your breast between 2 flat plates and compress the breast tissue a couple of seconds to capture a good clear X-ray view.
Ultrasound breast is a procedure using high-frequency sound waves to visualize the insides of your breast tissues, screening for any abnormal lumps.
Your doctor may recommend your ultrasound breast if you are below the age of 40. This is because younger women have denser breasts and mammogram is not effective in detecting cancer
- Eat healthy nutritious, high fiber low-fat food
- Exercise regularly
- Keep a healthy weight
- Moderate alcohol drink – less than 1 drink per day, or avoid altogether
Early detection of Breast Cancer places you at a better chance of survival. Treatment for early stages of Breast Cancer gives a survival rate of more than 90%. For this reason, it is imperative for women to check their breasts regularly for any changes, and speak to your doctor if any concern.
As always, be breast aware, self-examine, go for regular checkups, and speak to your friendly doctor.