ONE in four women who had free mammograms last year failed to return for follow-up tests, despite their scans indicating possible abnormalities.
The women had gone for screening under the Breast Cancer Foundation Encouragement for Active Mammograms (Beam15) programme, launched in March last year.
Beam15 targets low-income women aged 50 and above. The initiative – a collaboration with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) – screened about 8,700 women last year.
Of this group, 1,200 had screening results which required further assessment. About 300 never came back.
These numbers are “worrying” because they suggest women do not fully understand the point of screening, said Dr Esther Chuwa, a consultant breast surgeon at Gleneagles Hospital.
For Singaporean women, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer. It is also the top cause of cancer death. About 1,600 women were diagnosed with breast cancer each year between 2008 and 2012. During the same period, nearly 400 died from it every year.
“A lot of women get stuck at the stage where they don’t go back for follow-ups because they’re afraid they cannot afford treatment,” said Dr Chuwa. “But treatment at an early stage is less complicated, and will end up in more cost savings.” — The Straits Times / Asia News Network