- POSTED: 25 Sep 2013 17:09
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Three in five women between 50 and 69 years old say they have not gone for a mammogram in the last two years and doctors say this is a worrying trend.
SINGAPORE: Three in five women between 50 and 69 years old say they have not gone for a mammogram within the last two years.
Doctors say this is a worrying trend as breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the top cause of cancer-related death for women in Singapore.
No time due to work or family commitments, the fear of pain and the notion of not being at risk of breast cancer are just some of the common reasons cited by women for not undergoing a mammogram.
Cancer survivor Xin Tan never thought she was at risk until she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27.
"When I found out I was really shocked because I didn't expect it to be at the prime of my life when my career is going well to be diagnosed with breast cancer," she said.
"I think it's a misconception that young women won't get it and we shouldn't take it for granted that any lumps that we find are not cancerous."
On average, about 1,600 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Grace Fu, on Wednesday urged more women to go for a mammogram.
She said: "We women, very often, are the caregivers in the family. We look after our children, our husbands our parents but we need good health to do that so I urge all women to step forward. Give yourself some time to look after yourselves and go for breast screening because it's the most effective way of detecting breast cancer.
"Early detection and treatment is a very good way to treat breast cancer and there's nothing to be scared of."
Ms Fu added that strong family and workplace support are important to get more women screened.
Speaker of the House Madam Halimah Yacob also raised concerns about screening among the Malay community.
"If you look at the statistics, it's really dismal when it comes to the Malay women. When Malay women are diagnosed with breast cancer, it's usually in quite in an advanced stage compared to the other two communities - Indian and Chinese. Also, their tumours are a lot more malignant and aggressive."
"If you look at their survival rate for a period of five years after they have received treatment, for the Chinese women, it's 78 per cent, Indian women is at 68 per cent, and Malay women is only at 58 per cent. The challenge is also that for Malay women, the numbers going for screening is much lesser than the other two communities so there's a need to raise awareness."
Breast cancer advocates have also encouraged more companies to support women's health.
More help is now available to them as they can tap into the workplace health promotion grant which can help to offset the cost of breast cancer screening tests for female employees.
Since July this year, the Health Promotion Board made available an additional S$5,000 for companies to support women's health with the extension of the Workplace Health Promotion Grant.
Doctors say that besides breast lumps, there are other signs women should look out for.
Dr Lim Siew Eng, chairman of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign, explained: "Sometimes, it can be just one-sided breast enlargement. Sometimes, the skin looks funny or it can be a rash on the nipple, and sometimes, the nipple can be retracted. Not all of this is as a symptom or a sign that it's definitely breast cancer but it could be."
To encourage more women to go for a screening mammogram, the Singapore Cancer Society is offering a S$25 subsidy at participating clinics, polyclinics and hospitals from October to December.
Subsidies will be given to all women who are Singaporeans or Permanent Residents aged 40 years and above, and who have not had the mammogram done in the past 12 months; or 24 months if the women is aged 50 years and above.