More women going for breast cancer screening under Mammobus programme

The number of first-time screeners rose from 925 in 2017 to nearly 2,000 last year, when the Community Mammobus programme was launched.
The number of first-time screeners rose from 925 in 2017 to nearly 2,000 last year, when the Community Mammobus programme was launched.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A "Mammobus" with equipment to screen for breast cancer has seen more women getting screened for the first time.

The number of first-time screeners rose from 925 in 2017 to nearly 2,000 last year, when the Community Mammobus programme was launched.

The National Healthcare Group Diagnostics (NHGD), Breast Cancer Foundation and Singapore Cancer Society, which collaborated on this programme, said more women are going for screenings, as they are now "more accessible and affordable".

They have extended the programme by one year and it will now end next January.

On Sunday (March 17) the bus visited Punggol 21 Community Club where more than 40 women registered to get screened. About 30 were first-time screeners. Singaporeans who are first-time screeners do not have to pay, while repeat screeners pay $10.

The programme is also open to permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners, though they will be charged more.

Results will be mailed to the participants within about three weeks.

There is no difference between the bus screenings and those carried out in polyclinics, which cost $50.

There are about 1,930 newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer each year, and about 420 deaths, according to an annual report by the Singapore Cancer Registry in 2015.

NHGD executive director Lim Soh Har said: "Through this tripartite effort, we have successfully reached out to more women, particularly those who are screening for the first time... Such screenings support the Ministry of Health's objective of placing more emphasis on health instead of healthcare."

Companies and community clubs can engage the bus at no cost, to get their employees and residents screened.

Punggol resident Kim Tey, 47, who was screened for the first time, said: "I didn't mind getting checked here since it's free. I wouldn't want to go to a polyclinic because you have to pay and wait a long time."

Housewife Ms Khong, 46, got screened at a polyclinic about two years ago but decided to do it again since she also lives nearby. She said: "I feel it's necessary to do (regular) checks. You'll feel safe if you know you don't have any problems, and even if you do, you can go for early treatment."