Health screening saves lives through early detection
Death Percentage for Diseases
Ischaemic Heart Disease
Cancer is the top killer in Singapore and cancer cases continue to rise. It is more common than you would think. In Singapore, about 39 people are diagnosed with cancer everyday, 15 people die of cancer everyday, and in a family of 4, 1 person may succumb to cancer in their lifetime.1 Between 2013 to 2017, the 3 most common cancers are colorectal, breast and lung cancer.1 Most patients who have cancer may appear and feel well at the early stages of disease. Screening for cancer especially those at risk, for example, who have a family history of cancer, is beneficial in terms of detecting pre-cancerous or early stage cancer on blood tests and/ or imaging studies.
Other top causes of death are heart and cerebrovascular diseases. Risk factors for these diseases include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and lack of exercise. Men are more prone to these diseases and women are somewhat protected until menopause. At times, heart diseases like a heart attack are known to be silent killers whereby patients do not have symptoms of chest pain and blockage of the heart vessels is only found out on CT scan. Cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke happens when blood supply to the brain is interrupted causing a ‘brain attack’ – it is often related to background uncontrolled high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. With regular screening using a simple blood pressure machine and blood test measuring cholesterol levels, a lot of heart and cerebrovascular diseases can be prevented and controlled at the root cause.
Eating well, exercising regularly and resting sufficiently are all essential for maintaining a healthy body and mind. They help to prevent conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which can lead to life-threatening conditions such as stroke or heart attacks.
Whilst habits and environment are acquired, genetics also play a role in occurrence of diseases and also determines the risk for health conditions such as obesity-related diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, some forms of cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s diseases. Research has shown that 5 to 10% of cancers are genetically linked.2 Certain types of cancers like breast and ovarian cancers ‘run in the family’. Thus, if you have a genetic predisposition or family history of such cancers, our doctors may suggest a more thorough check and screen.
Health screening generally comes with blood panels, radiological scans, doctor’s consult and review aiming to detect diseases in patients who are apparently healthy.
A typical health screening session takes about 1 to 3 hours to complete and costs about $250 onwards. It is a worthy investment towards having the assurance of good health and also safeguards against potentially hefty medical bills and time associated with treatments. Treatment for any disease when captured early is more effective compared to when the disease is detected at a late stage, enabling better quality of life which is priceless.
1Common Types of Cancer, Singapore Cancer Society. URL: https://www.singaporecancersociety.org.sg/learn-about-cancer/cancer-basics/common-types-of-cancer-in-singapore.html. Last accessed: 26 February 2021.
2The Genetics of Cancer. National Cancer Institute. URL: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics#:~:text=Inherited%20genetic%20mutations%20play%20a,individuals%20to%20developing%20certain%20cancers. Last accessed: 26 February 2021.
All Time Favourites
Health screening for ladies
Women age > 50 years, once in two years
Women age 40-49 years, once a year
Women < 40 years, optional
Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? Outer beauty attracts, inner beauty captivates. And one important ingredient to having that beauty from within is being healthy. Physical health is no doubt, key, apart from mental and emotional balance.
Wonder why health screening is advocated at 40 onwards? When a woman is in her 40s, she undergoes a few changes such as slowing of metabolism and hormonal fluctuations. As such, it is important to keep several basic elements in check like weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. In addition, routine breast examinations should be continued, looking for breast lumps. For sexually active women, PAP smear / ThinPrep is recommended to look for cervical cancer once every 3 years. If ThinPrep is chosen, it can also test for human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus mainly contracted during sexual encounters and is responsible for cervical cancer. Ovarian and endometrial cancers should not be forgotten especially in women who have a family history. The signs of cancer, particularly gynecologic cancers, can be vague. Hence, regular health screening can save lives.
Health Screening for Men
Men ≥ 40 years, once a year
Men ≤ 40 years, optional
The number 1 killer for men in Singapore is cancer. Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer amongst young men (< 40 years) but is highly treatable, particularly when detected at an early stage. As men get older (> 50 years), prostate cancer becomes a concern, more so if there is a family history – regular screening in the form of digital rectal examination (DRE) and blood prostate specific antigen (PSA) are hence, important. In the UK, a trial of trying out a MRI prostate for prostate cancer screening is underway to see if it should eventually be offered routinely on the National Health System; its aim is to detect prostate cancer early where it would be curable.
It is also known that throughout life, men are at higher risk of heart disease and stroke, compared to women. These have been researched and thought to be related to adaptiveness in coping with stressful events physiologically, behaviorally, and emotionally.
Given these predispositions, it is good that screening for cardiovascular risk factors and cancer are carried out especially after 40 years of age.
Dementia is diagnosed when a person’s thinking and memory capacity degrades to a point that it impacts daily living. The mind becomes perplexed, simple tasks become challenging and as there is increasing loss of function, the person is robbed of his or her independence and becomes socially isolated.
Worldwide, around 50 million people suffer from dementia. Every year, 10 million new cases are found. In Singapore, 1 in 10 people aged 60 and above may have dementia. Dementia affects younger patients between 35 and 65 years old too. In this group, it is called young onset dementia (YOD) and Singapore has seen an alarming rate of younger people being diagnosed with this disease with numbers set to increase.
The role of imaging in dementia is to look for degenerative change such as in Alzheimer’s disease, exclude brain tumours and assess for early dementia or progression of disease.
Early diagnosis enables early treatment to slow the progression of dementia and to better manage the effects of the disease. It also identifies and control vascular risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes which increases the risk of dementia.
Pain in the Neck
Tackling neck and back pain
Neck and back pain are common especially when working at a desk for long periods of time due to poor posture, or from repetitive use from manual labour. Most times, the pain would resolve after some rest or simple exercises. However, there are occasions when neck and back pain should be taken seriously particularly when there is associated numbness or weakness in the upper and lower limbs, issues with urinating or passing motion and fever. These are ‘’red flags” that should ring your alarm bells and require medical attention.
Back to Basics
Curb the Pain
Whilst some of us have no choice but to lead a crazy-busy life, do not forget to listen to our body when it is crying in pain. Amongst the top causes of chronic pain are headaches, neck and low back pain.
Frequent headaches are not uncommon in the general population and often dismissed as tension headache or migraine. However, a headache could be due to a more serious cause such as a growing tumour, a bleeding stroke or a ballooning brain vessel about to burst and therefore, needs to be evaluated early as these conditions are potentially fatal.
The other common sites where aches and pains are felt are in the neck and lower back. This is usually due to degenerative disc disease with or without nerve root involvement. When there is prolonged pain related to other symptoms such as pain at rest, disturbed gait, bladder and bowel dysfunction, investigations need to be under way particularly to exclude cord compression and/ or cancer.
You should not have to suffer in pain with current advances in diagnostic and treatment options.
Knowing that your vital organs and structures are in good shape and function is reassuring. ‘Portrait’ was curated to ‘paint a picture’ of almost your whole body, assessing different elements in the form of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry.
At Quantum, this is done by capitalising on our imaging expertise where we provide purposeful imaging, risk assessment and laboratory tests.
Tailoring packages to fit like a glove with add-on tests/exams.