In a press release earlier today (15 July), the Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) announced that it will extend its successful Breast Cancer Foundation Encouragement for Active Mammograms (BEAM15) programme. BEAM15 was launched in partnership with Health Promotion Board (HPB) in 2013, and has provided free mammogram screenings for nearly 50,000 low-income Singaporean women.
With the extension, the BCF will provide $1 million to fund at least another 20,000 mammograms in the next two years. Henceforth, the programme will be known simply as BEAM.
Since the programme’s inception, the BCF has funded over $2 million in mammogram screenings across 20 centres under National Healthcare Group Diagnostics (NHGD) and SingHealth polyclinics located island-wide, as well as on the Mammobus. BEAM15 operates broadly under the guidelines of BreastScreen Singapore (BSS).
What’s more, BEAM15 has achieved its objective of increasing the uptake of mammogram screening amongst low-income women who are age 50 and above. Between 2013 and 2016, almost 200 cases of breast cancer were detected through BEAM. The BCF has always advocated that early detection saves lives and saves breasts, and because of BEAM15, it has helped 85% of the stricken participants detect their breast cancer early (at Stages 1 and 2), which is crucial for significantly improved survivorship rates.
“When I was younger and working, I had colleagues who had breast cancer and saw what they had to undergo during treatment. That made me realise that my health is my responsibility and I used to have to pay for the mammogram. So when I received the letter for a free mammogram, I immediately went and did it quickly because I know early detection is very important. Better to know early than find out at Stage 4! Now, when every two years is up, I will go and do it and I also encourage all my friends to go for one too!” said Ms Quah, 60, homemaker and mother of two, who has received two free mammograms under BEAM15.
“Breast cancer can happen to anyone, and early detection of the condition is crucial for all women regardless of background. BCF is pleased with the impact brought about by BEAM15 and we are committed to continue this success with an added $1 million funding for the next two years under BEAM. We are grateful for the support from our partners as we work hand-in-hand to help low-income women in Singapore gain equal access to mammogram screenings. We are very heartened to see more women take up screenings for the first time, and also for repeat screeners who are doing this regularly,” noted Mrs Noor Quek, President of the BCF.
“BCF continues to empower women to take charge of their breast health through our efforts, including the Community Mammobus Programme, that not only makes mammogram screenings affordable to women in Singapore, it brings screenings to their doorsteps,” she added.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Singapore. To detect breast cancer early, it is recommended that women carry out regular breast self-examinations every month. In addition, women of age 50 years old and above should go for bi-annual mammogram screening.