lifestyle

Did You Know: Women Over 40 Can Get Free Mammogram And Pap Smear Under SOCSO Programme

The health screening programme is provided for all active workers over the age of 40 years old.

Cover image via Beacon Hospital & Kosmo Digital

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If you didn't know, Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) provides a free health screening programme for workers over 40

The government agency provides the SOCSO Health Screening Programme (HSP) in their effort towards promoting healthy lifestyle, as well as for the purpose of identifying high risk workers with non-communicable diseases (NCD).

Within this programme, they also provide a free mammogram and Pap smear check-up for female workers.

Late detection of breast cancer is the most prevalent issue in Malaysia

The optimum time for women to do a mammogram check-up is at 40 years old and above. Mammograms help detect early signs of breast cancer.

According to the Breast Cancer Organisation, "Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting women in Malaysia. About one in 19 women in this country are at risk, compared to one in eight in Europe and the United States."

In a report from the Malaysia National Cancer Registry (MNCR), 47.9% of 13,485 cases were detected at a late stage, as of 2012 to 2016.

Image via Healthline

Cervical cancers usually develop from a long-term infection after a sexual intercourse

The World Health Organization's HPV Information Center reported that "current estimates indicate that every year 1,740 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 991 die from the disease."

Meanwhile, The Global Cancer Observatory reported that, as of 2020, cervical cancer is the fourth most deadly cancer, affecting 1,740 women out of 25,587 new reported cases

In most cases, cervical cancer is caused by a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, most often transmitted during sexual intercourse. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "at least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer".

Mammograms and Pap smears are important health check-ups for women, as it helps detect diseases like breast and cervical cancer early

Mammogram is a procedure carried out as a diagnosis tool for any signs of breast cancer, such as new lumps, skin changes around the breasts, breast pain, and nipple discharge.

This procedure may be uncomfortable or feel painful for some, but it's important for women to go for an appointment, because early detection helps in treatment options in the long run.

In an article by Verywell Health, you may need to do some preparations before undergoing a mammogram appointment, like scheduling for an appointment 10 days before your period, avoiding caffeine, taking an anti-inflammatory medication an hour prior, and refraining from using body care products like deodorant and lotion.

On the other hand, a Pap smear is beneficial for detecting cervical cell changes that would develop into cancer if left untreated.

For those who are sexually active, Pap smears are vital as cervical cancer often develops from a sexually transmitted infection.

Some symptoms of cervical cancer include vaginal bleeding between periods, pain during sex, pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding after menopause, among others.

There are some things to take note of before a Pap smear appointment, including avoiding having sex, using tampons, douching, and using vaginal care products.

Image via NPR

The HSP programme's requirements are as follows:

  1. A Malaysian citizen.
  2. Active contributor in SOCSO's Disability Scheme.
  3. Aged 40 years and above.
  4. Contributors between the age of 30 to 39 who are NCD-prone are also eligible.

Here's how to apply for the HSP programme:

  1. Download SEHATi app and check for eligibility.
  2. Set an appointment with SOCSO's registered panel clinics.
  3. Undergo the free health screening. 
Image via SOCSO

Find out more about what to expect for a Pap smear appointment:

If you'd like to know more about what the most common cancers are in Malaysia and how to prevent them, check out this story:

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