Essential Guide To Types of Cancer Screenings 2023

Contributed by: Dr Wong Siew Wei

Cancer screening is an important tool for individuals to detect early signs of cancer before symptoms appear. Dr Wong Siew Wei, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology shares more.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 individuals worldwide may develop cancer before the age of 75.

Cancer screening aims to help individuals detect cancer at an earlier stage or conditions that may lead to cancer before any symptoms appear. This makes it an effective tool for reducing cancer deaths, as cancer treatment is most effective when the cancer is discovered at an early stage.

For example, as colorectal cancers typically evolve from colonic polyps over a few years, a colonoscopy—which is used as a colorectal cancer screening tool—may help prevent colorectal cancers through the detection and removal of precancerous polyps.

Types of cancer screening include physical examinations, laboratory tests and imaging. Some cancer screening can also be done through self-examination at home e.g. breast self-examination.

In Singapore, the uptake of screening is suboptimal as illustrated in the following figure:

Infographic - Cancer screening at a glance

Cancer Screening: At a glance

37.9% women age 50–69 who have undergone mammography in the last 2 years* <1 in 2 women who have undergone cervical cancer screening* 41.1% residents age 50–74 who have undergone colorectal cancer screening within the recommended screening frequency*
*National Population Health Survey 2020, Ministry of Health


Infographic - Types of cancer screening

Types of Cancer Screening^

Cancer Type Breast Cancer Colorectal CancerCervical Cancer
Screening Types Mammography
  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
  • Colonoscopy
  • CT colonography
  • Pap smear
  • HPV test
Gender Female Male & Female Female
Age 40 & Above# 45 & Above## 21 & Above###
^Types of screening and ages shown are based on local population screening recommendations.
# Source:
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Healthy individuals can discuss additional individualised screening tests for prostate cancer, liver cancer, gastric cancer and lung cancer with their doctors.

It is important to follow the recommendations for cancer screening. Regular screening gives you the best chance of detecting cancer early.

POSTED IN Cancer Prevention
TAGS cancer screening, cancer self-examination, cancerous polyps, colonoscopy, colorectal cancer, FOBT (faecal occult blood test), human papillomavirus (HPV) cancer, mammogram, pap smears, prevent cancer
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