BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH 2020 PANDEMIC OR NOT, ‘IT’S TIME FOR BREAST HEALTH’
- Women should check their breasts every month. If breast changes are detected, doctor consultations should not be delayed because of concerns about COVID-19.
- A mammogram detects breast cancer early, even before symptoms appear. Women aged 50 years and above are recommended to go for a mammogram once every two years.
- 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week reduces one’s risk of breast cancer.
Singapore, 29th September 2020 – This year, the Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) campaign will be held quite differently. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the National BCAM Organising Committee, comprising the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF), Health Promotion Board (HPB), National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) and Singapore Cancer Society (SCS), will hold activities that observe social distancing with a series of online events to raise awareness of breast cancer.
Themed ‘It’s Time for Breast Health’, the national BCAM 2020 campaign led by NCCS aims to encourage women to play an active role in their breast health by regularly exercising, going for mammogram screenings and doing breast self-examinations at home.
Cancer does not stop for COVID-19
In Singapore, breast cancer remains the leading cancer among women. It is also the leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Between 2013 and 2017, nearly six breast cancer cases were diagnosed each day1. One in 13 Singaporean women will develop breast cancer before the age of 751 . Although the disease tends to affect women who are older, one in six are younger than 45 years old1.
“Women must continue to take care of their breast health during the pandemic and seek medical attention when they experience any changes in their breast. Many infection-control steps are in 1 Singapore Cancer Registry 50th Anniversary Monograph (1968 – 2017) place in our clinics and hospitals to ensure the safety of patients, while we continue to provide breast checks and cancer treatment,” said Clinical Associate Professor Veronique Tan, CoChairperson of BCAM 2020 Organising Committee, and Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Breast Surgery, Division of Surgical and Surgical Oncology, NCCS and Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
Seeking medical advice and treatment during the pandemic
Ms Laura Yuriani Hadimuljo, 36, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in March this year. Despite the pandemic and concerns about the risk of infection, she sought medical advice when she felt a lump in her left breast. What she initially thought was a cyst turned out to be breast cancer.
Devastated by her diagnosis, she bravely proceeded with surgery in April during the circuit breaker period. She recovered well from surgery, and is currently on a six-month chemotherapy infusion treatment at NCCS.
“I was afraid that if it was cancer, it would spread, so I didn’t want to delay. I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was eight years old. I don’t want my young daughter to experience the same painful loss.”
Laura keeps a positive outlook in her fight and has also been instrumental in helping another breast cancer patient move forward with her surgery by giving her advice and encouragement. “While our circumstances might not change, our perspectives can change, and we can see these problems as life learning experiences. I would urge all women not to delay if you have any concerns about your breast health, just book an appointment with the doctor and get yourself checked. Early detection increases the chances of survival.”
Physically apart but united virtually
Unlike previous years where roadshows and physical activities raised awarenes s and provided public education, BCAM 2020 will observe social distancing and harness newly developed online competencies to achieve the same ends. The public can safely engage in free educational public forums and fitness classes from the comfort of their homes. An online Pink Plank Challenge will be started to raise awareness that exercise reduces one’s breast cancer risk.
“Studies have shown that 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week can reduce the risks of breast cancer incidence by 9%2. Being active also brings many benefits such as improving mental health and reducing risks of other cancers and chronic illnesses,” said Dr Jack Chan, Co-Chairperson of BCAM 2020 Organising Committee, and Consultant, Division of Medical Oncology, NCCS.
Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the Pink Plank Challenge by recording themselves planking for one minute and sharing the video on their social media platforms to raise awareness of the importance of regular exercise to reduce breast cancer risk. Doctors and staff from NCCS, SingHealth-Duke NUS Breast Centre, Breast Cancer Foundation, National University Cancer Institute, Singapore, National University Hospital and Singapore Cancer Society have jointly created a video montage on their participation to encourage the public to join in this fun initiative.
Clinical Associate Professor Veronique Tan, Co-Chairperson of BCAM 2020 Organising Committee and Breast Cancer Patient, Ms Laura Yuriani Hadimuljo, are available to take interviews.
For media enquiries, please contact:
National Cancer Centre Singapore
1Singapore Cancer Registry 50th Anniversary Monograph (1968 – 2017)
2Pizot C, Boniol M, Mullie P et al. Physical activity, hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer risk: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Eur J Cancer 2016; 52:138-54.
Appendix A: BCAM 2020 Calendar of Events
Webinars on Breast Cancer
Organisers: National Cancer Centre Singapore and National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
Every Saturday in the month of October, 10.00am to 12.00pm 10 October
(English), 17 October
(Mandarin), 24 October
(Malay), 31 October
Free online public forums will be conducted in a different language every week. Participants can learn all about breast cancer from a panel of breast specialists. Q&A will be available.
Online Public Forum (English): Living with Breast Cancer - Challenges
Organiser: Singapore General Hospital
24 October, Saturday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Being diagnosed with breast cancer is challenging but it is not a death sentence. Participants will learn how to overcome the challenges to have a better quality of life.
Get Fit in Pink Online Fitness Classes
Organisers: National Cancer Centre Singapore and Singapore Cancer Society
Throughout October (check calendar for dates)
Many fitness instructors have come forward to support BCAM by conducting Get Fit in Pink online fitness classes pro-bono. Participants can select from more than 25 different fitness styles such as Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, BollyAerobics and Flamenco, and can sign up for as many classes as they wish. All classes are free. Participants are encouraged to wear pink. Calendar and registration website:
Pink Plank Challenge
Organisers: National Cancer Centre Singapore, Breast Cancer Foundation, Health Promotion Board, National University Cancer Institute, Singapore and Singapore Cancer Society
During the month of October, the public can join the Pink Plank Challenge by planking for 1 minute in pink, share their videos on Facebook, hashtag #pinkplanksg and tag three friends to join the challenge. This movement will raise awareness of breast cancer, and that exercise reduces breast cancer risk. More details about the Pink Plank Challenge can be found at http://bit.ly/bcamsg2020 or on the organisers’ Facebook pages.
Appendix B: Screening programmes for women in Singapore
Screen for Life
Regular mammogram screening is the best defense against breast cancer, as detecting breast cancer early can lead to increased chances of survival. The HPB recommends women aged 50 years and above to go for mammogram screening once every two years3.
Through the national Breast Cancer Screening Programme under HPB’s Screen for Life, women aged 50 years and above can enjoy subsidised mammogram screenings at participating breast screening centres. Before subsidies, a typical mammogram would cost $138 (before GST). To be eligible for the subsidies, women should be Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, asymptomatic and have not had a mammogram in the last two years.
Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) $25 Funding Assistance for Mammogram Screening
From 1st October till 31st December 2020, women who are eligible can receive a funding assistance of $25 from SCS for their mammogram screening.
Women who have their mammograms done at HPB’s Screen for Life breast screening centres (polyclinic) will expect to pay $25 (for Singapore Citizens) and $50 (for Permanent Residents), after prevailing government subsidies and SCS’ funding assistance. For mammogram screenings done at participating private breast screening centres, SCS will further defray the screening cost by $25.
To qualify for funding assistance, appointments must be made at participating breast screening centres by 30th November 2020, and the mammogram screening must be done by 31st December 2020. Funding assistance eligibility and a full listing of the clinics can be found at http://bit.ly/scsbcam2020 3Women aged betw een 40 and 49 years can screen for breast cancer, but they should talk to their doctor about the benefits and limitations of mammograms screening before doing so, to help them make an informed choice.
About National Cancer Centre Singapore
National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) provides a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment and patient care. We see close to 65 per cent of the public sector oncology cases, and they are benefiting from the sub-specialisation of our clinical oncologists. To deliver among the best in cancer treatment and care, our clinicians work closely with our scientists who conduct robust cutting-edge clinical and translational research programmes which are internationally recognised. NCCS strives to be a leading global cancer centre, and shares its expertise and knowledge by offering training to local and overseas medical professionals.
About Breast Cancer Foundation
Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) is a social service agency with the mission to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease. Set up in 1997, BCF is committed to raising awareness about breast cancer through talks, events and publications that advocate early detection through regular screening, as well as supporting survivors and their families through various befriending and training activities. As one of the few advocacy groups in the world with a Men’s Support League that was integrated with Caregiver Support Group in year 2017, BCF aims to encourage greater male participation in society’s fight against this affliction. For more information, visit www.bcf.org.sg or follow BCF on Facebook and Instagram.
About Health Promotion Board
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) was established as a statutory board under the Ministry of Health, Singapore, in 2001 with the vision of building “A Nation of Healthy People”. The Health Promotion Board aims to empower the people of Singapore to attain optimal health, increase the quality and years of healthy life and prevent illness, disability and premature death. As the key agency overseeing national health promotion and disease prevention programmes, HPB spearheads health education, promotion and prevention programmes as well as creates a health-supportive environment in Singapore. It develops and organises relevant health promotion and disease prevention programmes, reaching out to the healthy, the at-risk and the unhealthy at all stages of life – children, youths, adults and older Singapore residents. Its health promotion programmes include nutrition, mental health, physical activity, smoking control and communicable disease education. HPB also promotes healthy ageing, integrated health screening, and chronic disease education and management. More information can be found at
About the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
The National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) offers a broad spectrum of cancer care and management covering both paediatric and adult cancers, with expertise in prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care. The Institute’s strength lies in the multi-disciplinary approach taken to develop a comprehensive and personalised plan for each cancer patient and his or her family. Our award-winning clinician-scientists and clinician-investigators conduct translational research and clinical trials, providing patients with access to evidence-based cancer diagnostics, technology and therapies. For more information about NCIS, please visit
About Singapore Cancer Society (www.singaporecancersociety.org.sg)
Established in 1964, Singapore Cancer Society is a self-funded voluntary welfare organisation which provides patient care services to needy cancer patients through its welfare, hospice home care, cancer treatment subsidy and rehabilitation support programmes. In addition, the Society also provides free cancer screening services and promotes cancer awareness and prevention through its public education and community outreach programmes.
For enquiries specific to the various organisations, please contact:
National Cancer Centre Singapore
Mobile: 8157 3671
Breast Cancer Foundation
Public Relations & Communications
DID: 6833 4736
Health Promotion Board
Lim Wee Leng
DID: 6435 3549
National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
Mobile: 9777 2170
Singapore Cancer Society
DID: 64365 237 / 9819 6589
3Women aged betw een 40 and 49 years can screen for breast cancer, but they should talk to their doctor about
the benefits and limitations of mammograms screening before doing so, to help them make an informed choice.