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Dr. Tan Chuan Chien

Personalised Breast Cancer Screening In Singapore (Mammogram)

Breast cancer occurs when malignant cells develop in the breast tissues. With early detection through regular screening (mammogram), chances of survival can be greatly increased.

Why Is Breast Cancer Screening Important?

According to the Singapore Cancer Registry, breast cancer is the most common cancer among Singaporean women. Unfortunately, about 1 in 12-14 women in Singapore will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. As breast cancer is a very common type of cancer, there has been a lot of research in the last 50 years to improve its outcomes. Today, if a woman is diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, the success rate for treatment is high and the treatment process is much simpler than before.

Breast cancer screening aims to look for breast cancer when it is still small and early, before it creates any symptoms. This will enable doctors to offer simpler treatments and better survival outcomes.

Therefore, early detection through regular screening is critical in fighting breast cancer.

Benefits of a Mammogram for Breast Cancer Screening

Some benefits of a mammogram for breast cancer screening include:

  • Reduction in the risk of dying from breast cancer.
  • A mammogram can detect small changes in the breast before it’s physically (clinically) apparent.
  • If a cancer was diagnosed early, this may imply a chance that the patient may not need chemotherapy.
  • A mammogram is one of the fastest breast cancer screening methods as it takes 20-30 minutes to complete.
  • Reduction in the risk of undergoing a complete removal of the breast (mastectomy).

What Is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a breast cancer screening test that involves taking an X-ray of your breasts. It is used to look for breast cancer in women who have an average risk of developing breast cancer.

Who should get screened?

In Singapore, the recommended guideline is for all women aged 40 to 49 years old to go for a bilateral 2D mammography once every year, while women aged 50 to 69 years old to go for a bilateral 2D mammography once every two years.

However, as there is no “one size fits all” solution, each woman should discuss with their Breast cancer specialist to better understand their individual risk and needs, and agree on a suitable screening regimen, modality and interval that is right for them.


Key Guiding Philosophies


Dr. Tan is a Fellowship-trained Breast & Endocrine Surgeon who is registered on the Specialist Register (General Surgery) in both Singapore and Australia. He completed his formal Breast Surgery training through the BreastSurgANZ Fellowship Programme. He was previously Head, Division of Breast & Endocrine Surgery, NTFGH where he was the pioneer breast surgeon there developing a comprehensive, evidence-based Breast Surgery service.

Care for the wider community

Dr. Tan is passionate about engaging the wider community with regards to breast cancer outcomes. He volunteers with the Singapore Cancer Society and served as the Chairman of the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign Committee from 2018 to 2021. He continues to currently serve as a member of this committee. During his time in the public hospital, Dr. Tan was involved in research on breast cancer screening and care, where he succeeded in obtaining competitive grants and managing a research team, with the overall aim to improve breast cancer outcomes in Singapore.

Patient-centered care

Dr. Tan believes in the importance of the patient experience and the partnership between doctor and patients in healing sickness. He also believes no two individuals are the same. He believes in the philosophy of personalised tailor-made care plans for each of his patients to meet their individual expectations and needs.

Comprehensive Breast, Thyroid and General Surgery service

Dr. Tan aims to provide comprehensive, evidence-based care to all his patients, in a modern equipped clinic along the entire spectrum of the patient journey from diagnosis, through treatment/surgery and aftercare.

Other Breast Cancer Screening Options

During your consultation, Dr. Tan Chuan Chien will discuss with you and agree on the best screening plan for you.
Here are some other screening methods (apart from a mammogram):

Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT)

Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) is a new imaging technology that addresses the limitations of a 2D mammography. DBT uses low dose radiation to capture the breast image from multiple angles to construct a 3-dimensional X-ray image of the breast.


Breast ultrasound is a diagnostic procedure that uses sound waves to produce high-quality images of your breast. The procedure can be used both as an alternative to mammograms or in addition to mammograms, depending on the situation.

Breast ultrasound is used to examine potential abnormalities or masses in your breasts, such as tumours, cysts and calcifications. It can also be used during biopsies and treatments.


MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce computer-generated images of your breast. The MRI scans provide your breast specialist with an accurate view of the internal appearance of your breast as well as any suspicious growth.

The procedure is highly recommended for individuals aged between 25 – 35  years old who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer.

If you had silicone injections in the past to augment your breasts, ultrasounds and mammograms might be ineffective. In such a case, your doctor may recommend an MRI scan. However, MRI is not recommended for routine screening of average-risk women.

As a supporter of personalised surgical care, I understand that no two patients are the same. I believe in tailoring management for each patient to meet each individual’s needs and expectations. A patient’s journey can be difficult and frustrating at times, so I strive to make this experience as pleasant and seamless as possible.

Dr. Tan Chuan Chien
For Singaporeans, Singapore Permanent Residents and foreigners

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*NTUC Income (Extended Panel)

FAQs About Breast Cancer Screening

Below are some of the frequently asked questions about personalised breast cancer screening.

What are the common symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Some of the early warning signs of breast cancer include:

  • An unusual lump in your underarm or breast.
  • A flat/indented area on your breast.
  • Sudden breast changes such as a difference in the size, texture, contour or temperature.
  • Unusual nipple discharge.
  • Scaling, peeling, flaking or crusting of the pigmented area of the skin surrounding the nipple.
  • An inverted nipple.
  • A breast lump/thickening that may feel different from the surrounding tissue.

What is the right screening method for me?

There are several breast cancer screening methods. However, there is no single method that is effective for all groups of people.

To determine the best screening method for you, Dr. Tan will assess your health condition and recommend the most suitable screening method for you.

When should I start getting a mammogram?

Typically, you should start going for regular mammograms from the age of 40. Individuals aged 40-49 years are recommended to go for a mammogram every year.

If you are aged 50-69 years, it is recommended that you go for a mammogram screening once every two years.

However, it is important for every woman to discuss with their doctor their risk factors for developing breast cancer and consider if they have a higher risk than the average population. Women with a higher risk may require earlier screening.

How to prepare for a mammogram?

You are highly advised to wear a two-piece outfit on your appointment day to make things a little bit easier and comfortable for you, as the procedure requires you to be undressed from the waist up.

While fasting is not required before a mammogram, try to schedule your screening appointment at least one week after your menstruation. If you no longer experience menstrual periods, any date is good for you.

How long does a mammogram take?

The entire process takes 20-30 minutes.

What are the risks associated with a mammogram?

During the process, your breasts are exposed to radiation. However, the dose of radiation is quite low, and the benefits tend to outweigh the risk.

Dr. Tan Chuan Chien

Consultant General Surgeon Breast & Thyroid Surgery
  • Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)- The University of Adelaide, Australia
  • Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS)
  • Full Registration, Singapore Medical Council (SMC) and Specialist Accreditation Board, Singapore (General Surgery)
  • Full General & Specialist Registration (General Surgery), Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
  • Completed Breast Surgery training through the BreastSurgANZ Fellowship programme
  • Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore (FAMS)

Dr. Tan Chuan Chien is a Fellowship-trained Breast and Endocrine Surgeon practicing as a Consultant General Surgeon at Gleneagles Hospital, Singapore. He also sees patients at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre and Parkway East Medical Centre. Dr. Tan is a registered Specialist Surgeon (General Surgery) in both Singapore and Australia.

How Is a Mammogram Performed?

A mammogram involves taking images of your breasts with X-rays to detect any abnormalities or changes in the breast tissue.

You do not need to fast prior to a mammogram and it would be advisable to wear a two-piece outfit since you will be required to remove any clothing from the waist up during the scan. Avoid wearing any jewellery when you go for your scan.

During the scan, the radiologist will gently lower 2 paddles to gently compress your breast. Compression of the breast is necessary to enable the radiologist to obtain a good X-ray image for analysis. It is normal to experience some discomfort during compression. To reduce discomfort, it is advisable to schedule your mammogram one week after your menses, especially if you experience breast swelling and tenderness during that period.

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    SOG - CC Tan Breast, Thyroid & General Surgery

    • Gleneagles Medical Centre
      6 Napier Road #08-15/16
      Singapore 258499
    • Mon & Thu: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
      Tue & Fri: 9:00AM - 12:00PM
      Wed & Sat: 9:00AM - 12:30PM
    • T:
    • F: +65 6471 1088
    • M:

    SOG - CC Tan Breast, Thyroid & General Surgery
    (Mount Elizabeth Novena)

    SOG - CC Tan Breast, Thyroid & General Surgery
    (Parkway East)


    SOG - CC Tan Breast, Thyroid & General Surgery

    • Gleneagles Medical Centre
      6 Napier Road #08-15/16
      Singapore 258499
    • Mon & Thu: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
      Tue & Fri: 9:00AM - 12:00PM
      Wed & Sat: 9:00AM - 12:30PM
    • T:
    • F: +65 6471 1088
    • M:

    SOG - CC Tan Breast, Thyroid & General Surgery
    (Mount Elizabeth Novena)

    SOG - CC Tan Breast, Thyroid & General Surgery
    (Parkway East)