Free breast cancer screenings in north-east draw 600 women, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Free breast cancer screenings in north-east draw 600 women

Even though she has a family history of cancer, Madam Lim Sok Choo had not been screened for breast cancer for several years.

In August, she saw a flyer advertising a free mammogram at the lift lobby of her flat in Anchorvale and decided to sign up.

A few days after her mammogram at Sengkang Polyclinic in September, she received a call to do a re-test in October. A biopsy later found she had Stage 0 breast cancer, which is localised within the breast ducts.

“I had no lump, no pain, nothing at all,” said the 67-year-old, who worked part-time in sales before her diagnosis.

But after surgery to remove the tumour inside her breast ducts, a further test found the cancer to be Stage 1, as it affected lymph nodes close to her left breast. She went for a second operation, and is due to begin radiation therapy once her wound from surgery heals in order to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

Madam Lim is one of two cases of breast cancer picked up by a new breast cancer screening programme by the North East Community Development Council (CDC). Started in May 2023, the one-year programme aims to help lower-income women in the district with early detection of breast cancer, and to support those diagnosed. It is the only such programme among the five CDCs.

Some 600 residents have gone for the free screening, with 2 per cent – or about 12 cases – flagged for follow-up tests.

Under the programme, those diagnosed with breast cancer are entitled to a total of $10,000 in financial aid, including $5,000 in cost-of-living assistance and up to $5,000 in out-of-pocket assistance. Of the out-of-pocket assistance, Madam Lim has received $469 so far to help reimburse her medical expenses.

“It’s definitely helped me be less worried, that we will get help and won’t incur humongous charges.”

North East CDC collaborated with SingHealth on the North East Cancer Warrior Support Scheme.

North East CDC worked with community partners such as Masjid Darul Ghufran to bring a mobile screening bus into the mosque to make it easier for Muslim women to do their mammogram screening after their prayers.

Arrangements were made for those with caregiving duties or shift work to get screened on weekends.

The programme aims to have another 400 residents get mammograms in the next six months.