Breast Cancer: Risks and Early Detection
Breast cancer is the leading cancer among Singaporean women. In 2013-2017, there were 10,824 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed (nearly six cases per day) and 2,180 deaths (slightly more than one death per day). Do you know that regular breast cancer screening, also known as a mammogram, allows for early breast cancer detection so that a patient’s chances of survival and cure are higher? Be proactive and take the necessary preventive measures to ensure that you stay in the pink of health.
Who are at a higher risk of breast cancer?
The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Nulliparous (women who have never given birth before) women and mothers who did not breastfeed their children are also at a higher risk. Starting menstruation at a young age and/or going through menopause at a later age has also been shown to increase one’s likelihood of breast cancer. A positive family history of breast cancer, personal use of oral contraceptive pills and/or hormone replacement therapy also makes one more susceptible to the disease.
What does breast cancer screening (mammogram) involve?
Mammograms are breast x-rays used to detect the presence of lumps that cannot be felt by the hand; they are currently the most reliable tool used to screen for breast cancer.
A screening mammogram is recommended to be conducted once every two years for women above the age of 50. If you are between 40 and 49 years old and decide to get screened, screening mammograms should be done annually till the age of 50. However, if you have family history of breast cancer, do speak to your doctor as you may require screening from an earlier age.
Women are also encouraged to do monthly breast self-examinations to check for any lumps, skin changes or irregularities.
Where can I get my mammogram done?
Under the Breast Screen Singapore programme, Singaporeans and PRs above the age of 40 may be eligible for mammograms at subsidised rates at the polyclinics. You may use your Medisave for screening mammograms. Do speak to our doctors for more information.
Publication: 6th January 2020
 Singapore Cancer Registry – 50 years of Cancer Registration (1968-2017)