Seniors get tested for stomach cancer at free screening in Teck Ghee

The event at Teck Ghee Community Club was organised by #Checked Movement, a charity started this year to promote early cancer detection, together with the active ageing committees of the two constituencies.
The event at Teck Ghee Community Club was organised by #Checked Movement, a charity started this year to promote early cancer detection, together with the active ageing committees of the two constituencies.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - A total of 280 seniors in Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West SMC on Saturday (May 18) underwent free screening for stomach cancer, with the results out in two to six weeks on whether they are at high risk of getting  the disease.

They were the first official users of a test kit approved earlier this month. The test involves drawing a tube of blood which will then be processed in a lab. The event at Teck Ghee Community Club was organised by #Checked Movement, a charity started this year to promote early cancer detection, together with the active ageing committees of the two constituencies.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, was the guest of honour at the event.

He said in a Facebook post later that while the statistics can be intimidating, with 35 people diagnosed with cancer every day, more and more are surviving the disease thanks to early detection and better treatment.

"I encourage everyone to have regular screenings, as cancer can affect anyone at any time...Prevention is better than cure, and early detection is the next best thing," he said.

#Checked co-founder Mark Cheng said in a speech that the organisation wants to work with government agencies, grassroots organisations, medical professionals and technology partners to bring effective cancer screening to Singaporeans.

"Many Singaporeans still believe that there is nothing they can do to beat cancer. As a result, there is a stigma associated with cancer as a killer disease. That is one reason that cancers in Singapore are generally detected later than in other developed countries," he said.

"We firmly believe that a cancer-free Singapore is possible if we can inspire and empower people to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle and to get checked regularly for cancer."

 
 

The test kits at Saturday's event were provided by local medical technology startup Mirxes, which obtained approval from the Health Sciences Authority for the device earlier this month (May).

The test works by measuring levels of micro-RNA, which helps regulate genes. Users are given a risk score and those at high risk of gastric cancer can then follow up with an endoscopy. It is believed to be the first test in the world to detect gastric cancer risk through  blood test, rather than an endoscopy.

#Checked organiser Tang Yew Chung said the aim is to roll out more of such screening events to other constituencies.