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Low-income Singaporeans with family history of cancer to get greater access to screening programme

Low-income Singaporeans with family history of cancer to get greater access to screening programme

A genetics counsellor with a patient. (Photo: Cheryl Goh)

SINGAPORE: Low-income Singaporeans with a family history of cancer will get financial assistance to go through genetics screening to identify their own risk of cancer.

The screening is available at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), which on Wednesday (Feb 27) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) to expand such support to more Singaporeans.

The aim is to step up cancer prevention and early detection efforts.

Community Health Assist Scheme or CHAS cardholders will get up to S$1,000 a year to ensure they are able to continue with the required cancer screening. The screening programme will receive about S$2.6 million in funding from NCCS and SCS over three years.

READ: Singapore scientists identify new method of tackling treatment-resistant cancer

The Cancer Genetics Service team currently sees about 100 patients a week, said NCCS medical director Professor William Hwang.

"Joining hands with the SCS would not only allow the community greater access to genetic screening, but also allow us to reach out and help more high-risk individuals, especially the needy so we can put them on close surveillance,” he added.

READ: Through sickness and health: Why caregivers of breast cancer patients need support too

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Singapore, with one in three deaths due to the disease. 

On average, about 10 to 15 per cent of all cancers have a hereditary nature, which makes genetic screening a crucial part of early detection.

“We hope this programme will empower individuals to take charge of their lives and make commuted actions to find out more about their hereditary situation and reduce cancer incidence where possible,” said SCS CEO Albert Ching.

It was also announced that SCS will be located in the same building as NCCS in 2022, near Singapore General Hospital.

This means cancer patients who require financial aid, rehabilitation or hospice support will no longer to have to travel to multiple locations for help.

Source: CNA/ad(gs)

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