Cancer Screening

 

Who should go for cancer screening?

 

Screening for cancer Screening for cancer

 

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Singapore. If the disease is detected early through cancer screening, patients will be able to receive treatment early and avoid complications and death. Screening aims to help you find pre-cancerous or early stage cancer even if you do not have any symptoms. Early detection does result in better survival. 

It is best to get yourself screened if you have a family member who has been diagnosed with some form of cancer. Your doctor will recommend the type of screening tests you should take. If results are abnormal, you may be sent for further diagnostic tests to confirm if you have cancer.

 

Recommended guidelines for cancer screening


The chart below shows the recommended national screening guidelines for men and women at average risk for Colorectal, Cervical and Breast Cancer.


Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the cancer of the colon (the main part of the large intestine) and the rectum (the passageway connecting the colon to the anus). It is the top killer in Singapore, affecting more than 1,700* cases each year.


Regular screening can often detect colorectal cancer early, when it is most likely to be curable. In many cases, screening can also prevent colorectal cancer as some polyps or growths can be removed before they have the chance to develop into cancer. There are several tests that examine the colon and rectum and are used to find and diagnose colorectal cancer.


You are at high risk if you have a family history of cancer or polyps. Even if you have no symptoms and are not considered high risk, national guidelines recommend that you go for annual screening from 50 years of age. If you are at high risk, a colonoscopy at a younger age and at more frequent intervals may be needed. Please consult your doctor for advice.

 

  • Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT): A test to check stool for blood that can only be seen with a microscope. Small samples of stool are placed on special cards and returned to the doctor or laboratory for testing. The FOBT is a quick and convenient screening test to detect early stages of colorectal cancer. Those with positive FOBT will go through colonoscopy to rule out cancer.

  • Colonoscopy: This procedure allows examination of the whole colon for cancer. A colonoscope (a thin, tube-like instrument) is inserted through the rectum into the colon.


  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: This procedure examines the rectum and the sigmoid (lower) colon for polyps, abnormal areas or cancer. A flexible, thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing is inserted through the rectum into the sigmoid colon.


For more information about Colorectal Cancer, check out our Colorectal Cancer Infokit here.



Cervical Cancer

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb) connecting the body of the uterus to the vagina (birth canal). Cancer of the cervix is the most common cancer of the woman’s reproductive system and is the sixth most common cancer in women in Singapore.

 

One of the ways to prevent cervical cancer is to go for regular Pap smear test. A pap smear test is a simple procedure where cells are collected from the surface of the cervix and then sent to a laboratory to detect any abnormality.


All sexually active women between 25 and 69 years old are advised to have a pap smear test regularly (every three years on average). Even if you have HPV vaccination, you should go for your pap smear once every three years. HPV vaccination should not be used as a substitute for regular pap smears. 


For more information about Cervical Cancer, check out our Cervical Cancer Infokit here.

Breast Cancer

When breast cells divide and grow without control, breast cancer occurs. Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women and is the leading cause of deaths from cancer among women in 2008.


Monthly breast self-examination is recommended for women from the age of 30.

 

 


Regular mammography is the most reliable way to detect breast cancer. The recommended guideline for women above 50 years old is to go for their mammograms once every two years. Early detection saves lives. Women at high risk should consult their doctors regarding the frequency of the screening. Below are the recommended screening guidelines for healthy women:

 

  • Between 50 to 69 years: Go for a mammography once every two years
  • Between 40 to 49 years: Discuss with your doctor about the benefits, limitations and harms of mammography. If you decide to do it, have it done every year.

 


Download a copy of our Breast Self-Examination Guide here.


For more information about Breast Cancer, check out our Breast Cancer Infokit here.

 

 

 


More Information


For more information on cancer screening, contact our CancerLine hotline at +65 9722 0569 or email CancerLineNurse@nuhs.edu.sg.



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