Free Pap smear screening for Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

SINGAPORE - To encourage Singapore women to get tested for cervical cancer, the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) will be offering free Pap smear screening services at 178 clinics island-wide for the month of May.

The free screenings will be made available for all female Singaporeans and Permanent Residents aged between 25 to 69, who have had sex or are sexually-active now.

May marks SCS's eighth Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, organised in partnership with the Health Promotion Board, KK Women's and Children's Hospital, National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS), Parkway Cancer Centre and the Singapore General Hospital.

Last year's Cervical Cancer Awareness Month saw over 7,000 women screened through 136 participating clinics. This year, with a wider network of clinics, SCS aims to screen more than 10,000 women.

About four decades ago, cervical cancer was the second most common cancer amongst Singaporean women. It is currently ranked ninth.

A total of 918 new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed from 2007 to 2011. The age-standardised incidence rates (ASR) dropped from 17.6 women per 100,000 in 1972 to 1976 to seven women per 100,000 in 2007 to 2011.

SCS attributed this decline to an increase in public awareness which it said resulted in more Singaporean women going for Pap smear screenings.

It also credited the decline to more effective clinical management of pre-cancerous lesions.

However, cervical cancer still strikes roughly 200 women and kills about 70 women in Singapore each year. This is despite cervical cancer being highly preventable and curable when detected in its early stages, SCS said.

Precancerous and cancerous changes in the cervix can be detected using the Pap smear test. The simple and safe test involves collecting cells from the cervix.

The theme of this year's Cervical Cancer Awareness Month campaign centres around the slogan "Lift your Skirt, Save your Life". The message is that women should be pro-active and go for regular Pap smear screenings that can save their lives.

The participating clinics are listed on SCS' website, Members of the public can also call 6421 5867 or email cancerscreening@singaporecancersociety, for more information.