Cancer Screening In Singapore – General Information That May Help Save Your Life

Cancer is the number one principal cause of death in Singapore. According to the Ministry of Health’s Principal Causes of Death Statistics, cancer accounted for 30.5% of the 18,938 Singaporeans death in year 2013.

Without a doubt, cancer is a serious life-threatening illness. The good news is, the fight against cancer is winnable. Along with proper education about cancer and making positive changes in lifestyle habits, cancer screening can help you detect and treat cancer at its early stage.

What Is Cancer Screening?

Cancer screening is a series of medical examinations or tests conducted for an individual for the purpose of detecting cancer.

As there are different kinds of cancers, there are also different methods of cancer screening in Singapore. The procedure is handled by a highly competent medical professional either in hospital or clinic settings.

Do You Need To Be Screened For Cancer?

While the decision solely rests upon you, it does not hurt to screen for cancer especially if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • Genetic predisposition to have cancer
  • Lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking, eating a high fat diet, chewing tobacco or betel nuts, etc
  • Exposure to known cancer-causing chemicals or agents such as asbestos, radiation, extreme sunlight
  • Acquiring illness from certain viruses

Cancer Screening In Singapore: Detecting The Top Ten Cancer Killers

The National Cancer Centre Singapore released a report on “Top 10 Frequent Cancer Deaths from 2009-2013”. Fortunately, you can undergo cancer screening in Singapore for these killer cancers either from a government hospital, polyclinic or a private clinic.

Cancer screening in Singapore offers the advantage of state-of-the-art medical facilities, highly competent doctors and patient-focused care. While these methods are also available in other countries, you might consider cancer screening in Singapore for these benefits.

Here are some methods of cancer screening in Singapore:

Detecting Breast Cancer Through Mammogram

Because breast cancer is the #1 cancer killer among Singaporean women, breast cancer screening in Singapore has been the advocacy of government and private health services facilities. Breast cancer screening is done via a mammogram. Simply put, a mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. During the procedure, a technologist will compress or squeeze your breast for a few seconds between two plates attached to the mammogram machine to make your breast tissue thinner. The machine needs your breast tissue to be thinner to be able to capture sharper images.

While the mammogram is generally a painless procedure, you may experience some discomfort. If you unable to bear with the discomfort, inform the technologist about it so he or she may reposition you.

Women above the age of 40 years old are recommended to do mammograms annually.

Cancer Screening In Singapore For Colo-rectum Cancer & Other Polyps

There are three methods for colo-rectum cancer screening in Singapore:

  • Colonoscopy
    Using a thin, flexible, hollow tube that has a tiny video camera on the end called a colonoscope, colonoscopy lets a doctor see the inside of your entire colon or rectum from a monitor screen. The doctor will find polyps, or small growths which may become cancerous over time unless removed.The procedure usually lasts 30 minutes while you are asleep or made to relax. Doctors recommend a colonoscopy every 10 years unless you are at higher risk of having colon cancer.
  • Sigmoidoscopy
    Similar to colonoscopy, the doctor uses the sigmadoiscope to check the entire rectum and half the colon. The procedure takes 15-20 minutes while you are asleep or made to relax. Unless you have higher risks of having colon cancer, the doctor will advise you to have a sigmoidoscopy every five years.

  • Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)
    FIT is a stool test that seeks to determine the presence of blood in stool, which may be a sign of colorectal cancer. All women and men above the age of 40 are recommended to go for colon cancer screening.

Detecting Cervical Cancer Through Pap Smear

Cervical cancer screening in Singapore has saved many lives. The method is called a Pap smear, in which a doctor scrapes the cervix, the lower end of the uterus and the birth canal or vagina for a sample of cells which will be examined under a microscope for any abnormality. The procedure is done while the patient is awake, without pain and generally without discomfort.

All sexually active women are recommended to go for cervical PAP smear test.

Lung Cancer Screening Methods

This is only recommended for people who are at risk of developing lung cancer, such as people who are current smokers, ex-smokers or passive smokers.

  • Low-Dose Computed Tomography (CT) Scan. Studies show that CT scan detected early stages of Adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carninomas.
  • Chest Radiography (Chest X-ray). This is one of the most common screening procedures to detect diseases of the lungs, although it exposes patient to less radiation than CT scan, it is also less sensitive in terms of picking up abnormal changes in the lungs.

Other screening tests recommended for high risk group patients are:

Liver USS and AFP blood tests to detect liver cancer for patients with a history of Hepatitis B or C infection and liver cirrhosis.

Gastroscopy to detect stomach cancer for patients with history of stomach surgery, family history of stomach cancer, history of H Pylori infection.

Cancer Screening In Singapore: Save Lives Today

The decision you make today to undergo a cancer screening may save your life.

Government hospitals, polyclinics and private clinics may offer different methods of cancer screening. Check with your doctor for available options and get screened today.

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Incorporated in 2005, Singapore Medical Group (SMG) is a healthcare organisation with a network of private specialist providers across four established pillars - Aesthetics, Diagnostic Imaging & Screening, Oncology and Women's and Children's Health. Within Singapore, SMG has more than 40 clinics strategically located in central Singapore and heartland estates. Beyond Singapore, SMG also has an established presence in Indonesia, Vietnam and Australia. Learn about our privacy policy here.

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