Community screening bus, polyclinics to provide free mammograms to first-timers

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SINGAPORE – Women who have never gone for a mammogram can get a screening done for free at a community screening bus that will visit the Bishan-Toa Payoh-Sin Ming precinct once a month.

This is part of the Breast Cancer Foundation’s (BCF) push to get more women screened for breast cancer – the deadliest cancer for women worldwide and the most prevalent cancer among women in Singapore.

An average of six women are diagnosed with the disease in Singapore daily.

BCF has also started a fund that will provide free mammograms to low-income first-timers aged 50 and older at polyclinics islandwide.

These were among the initiatives announced by the BCF on Thursday (Jan 20) at its new Breast Cancer Centre at Sin Ming Court, which was launched by President Halimah Yacob.

The centre, which is Singapore’s first, provides breast cancer patients and survivors with emotional support through counselling, as well as a space to socialise and learn new skills, like sewing.

The foundation, which turns 25 this year, also aims to encourage more women to do regular screenings for early detection of breast cancer, which significantly improves survival rates.

According to the National Population Health Survey, only about four in ten women aged 50-69 go for a mammogram regularly. Women aged 50 and above are recommended to do a screening every 24 months, while those aged 40-49 should do one annually.

“Through early detection and treatment, the survival rate of breast cancer patients can be increased, thereby eradicating breast cancer as a life-threatening disease,” said Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and National Development, who attended the screening centre’s opening ceremony.

The BCF’s community screening bus, the Community Mammobus, will bring affordable X-ray screenings to the heartlands once a month this year.

Singaporean women will get a full waiver of the $107 fee if it is their first mammogram, or pay a heavily subsidised rate of just $10 for the screening. Permanent residents also enjoy subsidies, paying $25 for the first mammogram and $35 subsequently.

The bus will visit the Bishan-Toa Payoh-Sin Ming precinct each month, and will be parked at a community club (CC) in the area, such as Bishan CC and Marymount CC, or outside the Breast Cancer Centre.

There are limited slots available, and women can register their interest for a mammogram on a first-come-first-serve basis at https://www.bcf.org.sg/our-services/community-mammobus-programme

The BCF also launched its First Screen Fund to provide low-income women aged 50 and above their first mammogram for free at any polyclinic.

This complements the Health Promotion Board’s Screen for Life programme, which offers subsidised mammograms at polyclinics such that Singaporeans pay $50, while permanent residents pay $75. The screenings cost $37.50 for Merdeka Generation cardholders and $25 for Pioneer Generation cardholders.

Ms Staphnie Tang, president of the Breast Cancer Foundation, said: “We hope that with the initiatives launched alongside the Breast Cancer Centre we will be able to fight breast cancer together as one.”

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