In Singapore, the number of patients diagnosed with cancer has been rising over the years. However, with early diagnosis and treatment, patients can look forward to a higher chance of recovery, while avoiding further complications. This is why regular cancer screenings are so important to identify early diseases, even before any signs or symptoms emerge.
Persons with additional risks like family history all the more should not neglect this crucial step in their healthcare regimen. Additionally, your doctor will be able to advise you on which cancer screenings they recommend based on your health history.
As a general guide, we’ve also compiled a list of the 3 most common cancers you can get screened for in Singapore.
Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Singapore, with approximately 1,200 new cases each year. Men generally have a higher risk of contracting colorectal cancer, but an early diagnosis can increase the likelihood of complete recovery.
Some symptoms associated with colon cancer include a change in bowel habits, changes in stool colour and shape, abdominal pain, and presence of blood in stools. However, most of these symptoms only show up in the later stages of the disease, hence early detection through regular screenings like colonoscopies is crucial.
You can also obtain kits for the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) from the Singapore Cancer Society and participating pharmacies in Singapore.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women in Singapore. Each year, 1000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and 1 out of 13 develop the condition some time in their life.
Early breast cancer usually does not have any symptoms. However, some signs you can look out for include a lump or thickening in the breast, bleeding or discharge from the nipple, and a persistent rash. Although breast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, finding the cancer early makes it easier to treat.
The mammogram is the most common screening test for breast cancer in Singapore, and this may be complemented with other imaging scan like ultrasound. Consult your doctor to find out which screening test is most suitable for you.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that happens in the cells of the neck of the womb, called the cervix. Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, is a common virus that can lead to cervical cancer. In about 90% of the infected cases, the virus clears on its own, and the cells return to normal. Only in some cases, the infection persists and the cells grow abnormally, resulting in cervical cancer.
This cancer is a slow-progressing condition that usually takes years to develop. Therefore, it is vital to go for regular screenings so that it can be detected and treated early. Screening tests for cervical cancer includes Pap tests (also called Pap smears) and human papillomavirus (HPV) tests. These tests can detect cervical cells that are abnormal or infected with HPV, even before they turn into cancer.
As most cancers do not have symptoms at the early stage, early detection is the most important strategy to lessen the impact of cancer. Remember, prevention is the best cure!
Worried about going to a clinic amidst the pandemic? Even with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, many clinics are open for routine cancer screenings and can make arrangements for safe and controlled testing. Call ahead to make your appointments or ask your doctor about the screening tests you need.