National Cancer Centre (新加坡全国癌症中心) for an advanced breast screening as a suspicious lump was found in my left breast.
9 out of 10 women who need further tests get normal results.
My appointment was fixed at 9.10 am on 19th January 2011. I was at Clinic B early with my husband. While my husband waited outside, I changed into a gown and watched a video on breast cancer with several ladies who were referred there by clinics all over Singapore.
The ladies were in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Many of them looked worried. Several confessed they cried for days before coming for further tests. We chatted, shared our stories and comforted one another. Some tell stories of people they know who were diagnosed with breast cancer, one already had one breast removed and is now back for a mammogram of the remaining breast. One by one they went for their tests. By lunch time, most of the ladies went home feeling relieved.
I had my mammogram at 11.25 am and then an ultra-sound scan. The mammogram examination was painful this time but it was tolerable. Dr Jill Wong (Oncologic Imaging) went through the results with me and explained the finding of microcalcifications.
She referred me to Oncologist, Dr Ong Kong Wee. I was in doubt when I opened his door to find a young surgeon but he turns out to be a godsend.
An oncologist is critical in the life of a cancer patient. He/She must be kind and skilled and an individual with whom a patient can confide and relate. Due to the severe danger of cancer, an oncologist typically has a deeper relationship to his or her patients than most doctors. It is essential to choose the right oncologist who can explain the cancer diagnosis and meaning of the disease stage to the patient; discuss various treatment options; recommend the best course of treatment; deliver optimal care; and improve quality of life both through curative therapy and palliative care with pain and symptom management.
Through my conversations with Dr Ong (before and after my surgery) and observing his commitment to his patients, I know I am in good hands. I find this guide on Doctor-patient relationship helpful.
Dr Ong recommended a Mammotome Breast biopsy and explained to me in detail the procedure. Small samples of tissue are removed from the breast using a hollow needle which is guided precisely to the suspicious lesion via mammogram. (Oh my God! Poking a needle in my breast!?) This will be done in Clinic B.
This procedure is minimally invasive as compared to an open surgical biopsy, and it is performed as an outpatient procedure. It has the ability to sample microcalcifications, making early diagnosis of breast cancer possible. It is done under local anaesthesia and takes about 45 minutes to complete.
Unfortunately, I was not able to do a Mammotome Breast biopsy because the microcalcifications were too close to the skin so I was advised to have an open surgical biopsy.
Thanks to Dr Ong Kong Wee, I was scheduled for the surgery on the following Monday.
Costs (I am a Singapore citizen so I get subsided rates) :
Consultant - Initial visit S$25 (Full rate S$75)
Ultra-sound Breast ) both for S$105 (Full rate S$ 217.14)
Next post : Preparing for Surgery at Singapore General Hospital
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Till date, breast cancer is still the number one cancer affecting Singaporean women. It is not a harmless cancer that one can simply ignore.
The incidence of breast cancer is highest among women in their 50s. It is recommended that women aged 50 and older should go for a mammogram screening once every two years.
9 out of 10 women who go to their doctors with breast lumps have a benign disorder, not cancer.
At National Cancer Centre 新加坡全国癌症中心, they adopt a multidisciplinary and holistic approach to cancer treatment.
Tel : 6436 8000
National Cancer Centre Singapore
11 Hospital Drive
Main Tel & Fax No
Tel: +65 6436 8000
Fax: +65 6225 6283
Mondays to Fridays : 8:30am to 5:30pm
Saturdays : 8:30am to 12:30pm
I find this site by National Cancer Centre extremely useful :
Frequently Asked Questions about Breast Cancer
First Commenter -
Credits : Photos from the net, information from National Cancer Centre