Tuesday, January 25, 2011

EastCoastLife Goes to National Cancer Centre (Singapore) for Advanced Breast Screening

After my mammogram at HPB, 2 weeks later I received a letter asking me to go for further test. I booked an appointment with 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.

At 3 pm, I was sent back to Dr Jill Wong who had me lay down on my stomach and my left breast was tightly clamped into position. I referred to that room as the 'torture chamber' which I was to visit again before my surgery. :P  

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)

Mammogram                 )
Ultra-sound Breast         ) both for S$105 (Full rate S$ 217.14)

Next post : Preparing for Surgery at Singapore General Hospital

 ******************** ooo OOO ooo ******************

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
Singapore 169610

Main Tel & Fax No
Tel: +65 6436 8000
Fax: +65 6225 6283
Operating Hours
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


  1. Oh dear ECL, I'm so sorry to hear of your condition but nevertheless, with these days of advancement in treatment, I'm most certain you're in very good hands and I pray that you'll find strength within you during this period of time to help you in your journey against this battle. All the very best for a speedy recovery!

  2. Wishing u a speedy recovery and I would like u to know that u will be in my prayers :)

    This is a very good post (and u are very brave in posting it) and it will surely help to raise awareness.

  3. All the best to you, ECL, and thanks for sharing your experiences with us all. My mammogram will be in the fall.

  4. ECL,

    Take care and I am sure you will be fine. *Hugs*. I went through mammogram and surgery before at SGH too.

    BTW, I am passing award to you. Check it out at my site :)

  5. It is better to be safe than sorry right? :D

  6. Sending you a hug and a prayer for speedy recovery. take care ECL.

  7. yenjai,
    Thanks. Luck has nothing to do with having cancer lah! haha....

    If I have cancer, there are greater things which I can do, no more fear. :)

  8. ilene,
    I'm in good hands. Still waiting for the biopsy result. I'm not worried.
    Thanks for your support and concern.

  9. Horsoon,
    Thank you so much, bro.

    I hope to create as much breast cancer awareness as possible and assure the ladies not to be fearful of the tests.

  10. Gran,
    You are welcome. Glad that you are going for your mammogram regularly.

  11. Denesa,
    Thanks for your support and encouragement.

  12. Lina,
    Thank you! I will enjoy my Chinese New Year first. :)

  13. Wow ECL!I will pray for you dearie.. Hope all goes well and it is nothing serious!

    Take care!

  14. oceanskies,
    My oncologist is optimistic that I would be fine but he is being very careful as there is still the 10% chance of getting a negative result. :)

    I'm just going to enjoy my Chinese New Year.

  15. Hello Lady Java!
    Thank you so much for your concern and prayers. Love you.

  16. best of luck with your result! we will be praying for you while waiting for your good news. :)

  17. What a terrible start to the new year. What an awful worry to carry around. I will be thinking of you and hope that you will receive good news soon.
    Lots of love, Polly x

  18. hope the results will come out ok. you are included in my prayers. tc.

  19. Good luck ECL. I hope everything goes well. I'll be praying for you.

  20. Oh dear! I'm sorry to hear about this. I hope and pray you are alright and that the surgery goes well.

    You'll be in my thoughts and prayers. Good luck.

  21. Goodluck ECL..

    My first time to read your blog from Entrecard..drop an EC also..

    God bless!

  22. ECL, hope everything turns out fine and good. Wish you good health!