What Is A Mammogram?
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. The main purpose of getting a mammogram is to look for early signs of breast cancer. In Singapore, breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer; almost 1 in 13 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Singapore’s national breast cancer screening guidelines recommend for women at the age of 40 to 49 (who are asymptomatic) to get a mammogram once a year, and women over the age of 50 (who are asymptomatic) get a mammogram every two years. As part of the observance of breast cancer awareness month, we will be discussing why you should get a mammogram. Hopefully, this article will help to increase the percentage of women getting a mammogram screening in Singapore.
Mammogram Screening – 5 Reasons Why You Should Do It
1. Early detection can help to save your life
Mammogram screening can help early detection of breast cancer. The survival rate for breast cancer is close to 100% when it is found early and in a contained phase. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer declines to around 25% if it reached an advanced stage and spread to other parts of the body.
2. You cannot detect on your own
Much earlier than you or your doctor would be able to feel a lump in your breast, mammograms can detect tumours in the breast. Although breast self-examinations are still crucial, you might not notice any changes until a significant lump has developed. When that occurs, breast cancer might already be more advanced and more difficult to treat.
3. Early detection may prevent the need for mastectomy
Early diagnosis of breast cancer may prevent the need for a mastectomy (surgical removal of the breast). Alternatively, a surgery known as a lumpectomy may be performed to remove the cancerous tumour while leaving the healthy tissue surrounding it untouched.
4. It does not take long
On average, a mammogram only takes 20-30 minutes to complete, and there are many places in Singapore that offers mammography services. So, a busy lifestyle is no excuse for not getting a mammogram screening.
5. There is low risk from radiation exposure during mammography
It is a misconception that mammograms should be avoided as the radiation from mammography can harm the body. In fact, the level of radiation exposure is very low and the risks from radiation is correspondingly very low too. On the other hand, it has the massive advantage of allowing for early detection of breast cancer.
Mammogram Screening in Singapore
Where To Get One
In Singapore, mammogram screening under the national Screen For Life programme is available at all CHAS GP clinics. You can locate a CHAS clinic near you at this link.
Check your eligibility for Screen For Life subsidies here.
Preparing For Your Mammogram Screening
It is advisable to go for your mammogram at least one week after your menstrual period. This is to avoid discomfort during the procedure since the breasts may feel tender and sensitive during menses.
When going for the screening, avoid using deodorants, perfumes, powders or ointment in the underarm area or on the breasts as this may affect the X-ray.
Do wear comfortable two-piece clothing as the screening will require you to undress to the waist.
What Happens During A Mammogram?
You will be asked to stand in front of a special X-ray machine during mammography. First, a radiographer will help to position the breast between 2 clear plates. The breast will be and gently compressed. Next, 2 x-ray pictures of each breast from different angles will be taken. It will be necessary to compress the breast in order to reduce the thickness of the breast and improve the quality of the x-rays taken. A few seconds of discomfort may be experienced during compression.
[Updated 25 Oct 22]
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.