SINGAPORE - During a recent visit to a polyclinic, Ms Yong discovered that she has a fatty liver.

The doctor informed her that she had developed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This means there is a build-up of extra fat in the liver cells that is not linked to alcohol consumption but which can lead to primary liver cancer.

The 58-year-old IT industry freelancer, who did not want her full name to be used, is among a growing number of Singaporeans who suffer from this condition.

There may be a number of causes, such as the adoption of a more Western diet. Some experts believe that the increased consumption of fructose (such as in soft drinks and cookies) has contributed significantly to this condition.

Ms Yong's family has a history of primary liver cancer. Her mother died of it in 2008. It was discovered at too late a stage, when a cure was no longer possible.

Ms Yong, who also has hepatitis B, has been a vegetarian since 2008. She exercises regularly and goes for regular check-ups.

Chronic hepatitis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are some of the risk factors for primary liver cancer, one of the deadliest cancers in Singapore.

Ms Yong has joined the Elegance study led by the National Cancer Centre Singapore. The study aims for more accurate early diagnosis, which makes a cure possible in more cases.

She went for her first magnetic resonance imaging scan and blood test under the study in July.

"The scan and blood tests took around an hour. The staff were very professional, there was no pain or discomfort and it was a fast and smooth experience," she told The Straits Times.

The study will be done over four years and participants will have a follow-up every six months. Their biosamples (blood, urine and stool) will be collected, and blood tests as well as an ultrasound will be done at each of seven visits.

There are no costs involved from participation in the study, and transport costs can also be claimed.