Media Articles

Media Articles 2018


Jan  |  Feb  |  Mar  |  Apr  |  May  | Jun |  Jul  |  Sep  |  Oct  |   Nov  |  Dec




Nov 2018


Cancer is not a curse

Among Singaporean Indian women, 615 cases were diagnosed between 2011 and 2015. Compared to Indian women in the subcontinent,
the incidence among Indian women in developed countries (the United Kingdom, the United States and Singapore) is higher. This is partially attributed to lifestyle changes that come with living in developed countries – such as being overweight and sedentary. Another possibility is the vas amount of spices that are still used in the subcontinent – such as turmeric, ginger, pepper, clove and cumin – which apparently have anti-cancer properties. Dr Balamurugan A Vellayappan, Consultant in the Department of Radiation Oncology at NCIS said, "The good news is that breast cancer can be picked up at an early stage when a cure is highly likely and treatment side-effects are less."





New app offers holistic support for cancer patients

From tracking their medical appointments to getting advice on the spot, cancer patients will soon be able to do these and more with a new mobile app developed by the National University Cancer Institute Singapore (NCIS). Powered by artificial intelligence technology, the app is designed to support patients in all their cancer related app for cancer patients here. Announcing its launch at the institute’s fundraising gala dinner on 8 November 2018, NCIS director Prof Chng Wee Joo said, “It’s like a buddy for patients, a buddy to follow them and be with them throughout their cancer journey.”





Sep 2018

(Multinational Research: Stronger chemotherapy raises cure rates for child leukemia by 90%)

The study, jointly conducted by NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and University of Malaysia, together with NUH, KKH and two Malaysian hospitals, was completed in 8 years and involved 346 children in both countries with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). About 20% of children with ALL have a more than double chance of relapse due to the absence of the Ikaros gene. The team of researchers raised cure rate from 70% to more than 90% and reduced relapse rate from 30% to 13% with intensified chemotherapy treatment in this group of children. A/Prof Allen Yeoh said “Through bone marrow tests, we identified these children who do not have the Ikaros gene, intensified their chemotherapy dose, and the results were very good.” He added, “At present, these children are receiving the highest dose of chemotherapy. The research team will continue to look for new treatment options, such as immunotherapy and other safer options… our ultimate goal is to help them recover fully.”




Jul 2018


临终护理温暖 最后一程写意 (Warmth of end-of-life care)



Dr Noreen Chan from NCIS was one of the doctors interviewed on end-of-life care. She shared that the focus of our medical system is usually the patient’s ‘body’, neglecting the spiritual and emotional needs. She said many times the medication is not in the bottle but in relationships, in positive words and encouragement.” She added that many times patients do not need the many medical tests and treatments. Conversations are more important and is the beginning of providing quality care.





Precision Medicine Gives Cancer Patients Hope


A programme by the National University Cancer Institute Singapore (NCIS) is helping to match cancer patients with certain genetic profiles to early-phase clinical trials of new drugs. More than 200 patients comprising Singapore residents and foreigners have agreed to undergo genetic testing, under the expanded Integrated Molecular Analysis of Cancer Programme, according to Dr David Tan, consultant at NCIS' Department of Haematology-Oncology, and the lead investigator. The NCIS has been working with molecular insights company Foundation Medicine, a subsidiary of Roche, since May last year to screen patients' tumours for abnormalities in 315 genes to match them to suitable trials.Dr Tan added that the programme gives patients access to drugs which are not yet on the market, and provides them with targeted treatment.





能真正“对症下药” -- 精准医学计划首阶段分析排列万人基因


Precision medicine allows doctors to prescribe the best form of treatment for patients, especially cancer patients, based on their genes and physiological conditions. Yet, it is important for MOH to strike a balance between investing in research on new diagnostic tools and genomic analysis for precision medicine. The 15-person committee to lead the National Precision Medicine Program was established earlier this year. The research is to conduct whole genome sequencing for 10,000 people. Prof Chng Wee Joo, Director of NCIS and member of the steering committee was quoted in the article. He shared that the cost of gene sequencing has gone down and advanced technology has enabled whole genome sequencing which could help in identification of gene mutation. This would allow patients to receive more targeted treatment.




Jun 2018



照顾病患义工  益己暖人


 Jenny (tonsil cancer survivor) and Alice (main caregiver of her husband with throat cancer), both members of the NPC oneHeart Support Group at the NCIS, shared their motivations and positive experiences as volunteers with the NCIS Befrienders Programme. Dr Choo Bok Ai, Senior Consultant, Department of Radiation Oncology, NCIS shared that there are many ways which one can volunteer, from raising awareness, providing care to supporting activities for patients. Volunteers can also be part of the Dream Makers Programme launched in April, which aims to help cancer patients fulfil their dreams.





Survivorship: Life after cancer diagnosis


Many patients overcome their cancers and continue to live positive and productive lives. Hence the term ‘survivorship’ which refers to the uphill battle one faces after diagnosis and the realization that there is life after being diagnosed with cancer. In Asia, we often hear the saying, ‘it is easier to die than to recover from chronic disease.’ With access to critical healthcare services and medicines, a patient’s quality of life can be greatly improved. Unfortunately this access is still greatly lacking in some parts of ASEAN. In a study conducted in ASEAN on costs related to cancers, it was found that more than 75% of people with cancer in Southeast Asian countries experience death or financial catastrophe within a year of diagnosis.  Dr Lim Siew Eng, Senior Consultant, Department of Haematology-Oncology, NCIS, joins the panel members and discuss how the healthcare eco-system can collaborate to better improve a cancer patient’s quality of life and how access to healthcare  and medicines are still lacking in some parts of ASEAN which are not favourable for  the survivourship of cancer patients.





Cancer survivors can soon have check-ups nearer home


An article on how cancer survivors can soon go to family doctors for follow up care. By July, NCIS will be sending breast and colorectal cancer survivors to selected GPs in the NUHS primary care network such as NUP, Keat Hong and Frontier Family Medicine Clinics for routine cancer care. Dr. Chan Ching Wan, Senior Consultant, Division of Surgical Oncology (Breast Surgery), NCIS, mentions that in the future, cancer may well be treated like a chronic condition once the acute phase of treatment is over, which is why engagement of primary care physicians for future care patients is important. Professor Chng Wee Joo, Director of NCIS, mentions that to address whether GPs are adequately trained to identify signs of relapse, NCIS will train and accredit the GPs and establish a fast-track referral system back to the oncologist.



Treatment over, but the anxiety remains


An article with cancer survivors on how they still have anxiety about cancer despite completing their treatment. Madam N. Pushphavalli, a cancer survivor who was treated at NCIS, mentions that when she sees a rash or lump, she will keep monitoring it for four to five days to observe if it gets bigger or skin around it gets thicker. She has to also go through various lifestyle changes and have to go for many test and check-ups.



US findings may help breast cancer patients here avoid chemo


An article with cancer survivors on how they still have anxiety about cancer despite completing their treatment. Madam N. Pushphavalli, a cancer survivor who was treated at NCIS, mentions that when she sees a rash or lump, she will keep monitoring it for four to five days to observe if it gets bigger or skin around it gets thicker. She has to also go through various lifestyle changes and have to go for many test and check-ups.



May 2018

Brachytherapy: Targeting the enemy from within

A contributed article by Dr Vicky Koh, Consultant, Department of Radiation Oncology, NCIS, about how Brachytheraphy is a treatment that requires a radio-emitting source to be placed within close proximity to its target. Although used since the early 1900s, today’s technology assist doctors with the use of advanced imaging techniques. Brachytheraphy can be used to cure many type of cancers such as breast, cervical and prostate cancer. 

When conventional cancer treatment doesn't work on kids

What happens when childhood cancers attack aggressively and do not respond to the best standard of care? In this DocTalk contributed article, Dr Tan Poh Lin, Senior Consultant, Division of Paediatric Haematology-Oncology, NCIS, sheds insight on alternative forms of treatment that can give children with cancer hope. 


Let's talk about death

On a segment about Advance Care Planning (ACP), Dr. Noreen Chan, Head and Senior Consultant, Division of Palliative Care, NCIS, and ACP Lead and Senior Consultant, NUH, spoke about how it is difficult to speak to patients about death and how patients find ACP emotionally difficult to complete as they are confronted with their mortality. She also talks about the difficulties to find time to bring up ACP as clinic sessions are short and are mainly focused on patients’ medical conditions.

Apr 2018


Healthcare workers, caregivers and volunteers receive recognition for their work



Dr Choo Bok Ai, Senior Consultant, Department of Radiation-Oncology, NCIS, was among the “Honourable Mention” award recipients at the Healthcare Humanity Awards 2018 held yesterday. Dr Choo was lauded for spearheading the Befriender's Programme in 2012, which provides a platform for cancer survivors to exchange knowledge and experiences with newly diagnosed patients. He also currently helms Dream Makers, an initiative that aims to fulfil the wishes of terminally-ill cancer patients.







Consuming low-fat diet with prostate cancer drug could cut costs by 75 per cent, improve outcomes  

Researchers from the NCIS, who were part of a multi-site study with the University of Chicago and cancer centres in the United States have found that eating a low-fat meal with Abiraterone Acetate, a standard drug for Prostate Cancer, instead of on an empty stomach could improve outcomes and drastically lower costs – by as much as 75% – for Prostate Cancer patients. Dr Yong Wei Peng, Senior Consultant, Department of Haematology-Oncology, NCIS, said that "With this finding, we are confident that the patient gets to enjoy a simplified schedule, has slightly more control over his daily life and the opportunity for cost-savings."




Scientists develop novel cancer cell culture test kit for personalised, precise cancer therapy


A team of scientists from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has developed a novel and robust cancer cell-based assay that could help clinicians diagnose cancer, monitor the disease state and customise drug therapies for each individual patient. A/Prof Lee Soo Chin, Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Haematology-Oncology, NCIS, mentioned that the device will provide a cost-effective and less-invasive means of routine monitoring of disease progression.      



Couples with colorectal cancer prompt study by Singapore team

Colorectal Cancer is the most common cancer in Singapore, with 9,807 new cases diagnosed between 2011 and 2015. Five couples at the NCIS who were diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer have led to a study helmed by Dr Tan Ker Kan, Consultant, Division of Surgical Oncology (Colorectal Surgery), NCIS, which seeks to shed more light on whether genetic or environmental factors are blame.



Mar 2018


Fighting cancer through awareness and screening

A post-event write-up about the highlights of the NCIS Ribbon Challenge 2018 event held last Saturday in conjunction with our 10th year anniversary. A total of 10,125 cancer awareness ribbons and 707 pledges to do cancer screening were collected, bringing us one step closer to winning against cancer. Prof Chng Wee Joo, Director, NCIS, said that the event, which aimed to raise awareness of early detection is "to remind us that cancer patients are around us. It (cancer) is very common, but we can do a lot more to help prevent it and to detect it early.” 


Guidance and support key to beating cancer in old age

In view of the number of increasing elderly cancer patients in Singapore, the NCIS plans to pilot a new Geriatric Oncology Clinic designed for elderly cancer patients in the second half of this year. In this article contributed by Dr Angela Pang, Consultant, Department of Haematology-Oncology, NCIS, who is spearheading the NCIS Geriatric Oncology Clinic, she shares more about why guidance and support are key to beating cancer in old age, and how this new initiative can help benefit elderly cancer patients. 


Crucial to check for colorectal cancer: Doctor

3 in 100 Singaporeans will develop Colorectal Cancer in their lifetime. This makes the disease a leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. According to Dr Chee Cheng Ean, Consultant, Department of Haematology-Oncology, NCIS, Colorectal Cancer death rates dropped in part because of screenings. She said: "It is a fact that Colorectal Cancer screenings help people stay well and save lives. In some cases, screenings find growths, called polyps, that can be removed before they become cancer."  


New drug a boost for blood cancer patients

Hope for Multiple Myeloma patients as a drug which aims to increase the length of time Myeloma patients can spend without the disease getting worse has been approved by the Health Sciences Authority. Myeloma is an almost incurable blood cancer in the bone marrow or soft tissue. Symptoms include bone pain, kidney failure and anaemia. According to Professor Chng Wee Joo, Director, NCIS, "There are some Myeloma patients - less than 10 per cent - that, with some of these treatments, have no disease at all for more than 10 years. They may well be cured. But this is rare."  


Feb 2018


Asian lung cancer tumours may be tougher to treat: Study

A study has found that Asians with lung cancer have tumours that are genetically more complex than previously thought and this could make these patients more challenging to treat. Dr Choo Bok Ai, Senior Consultant, Department of Radiation Oncology, NCIS, gave his opinions about the findings from the study saying that is provides an understanding of the complexity of cancers, which will help in treatment in the future. 




Flushed when drinking? There could be cancerous consequences


Drinking alcohol is often unavoidable during Chinese New Year. But if you find yourself getting flushed, it might be time to take notice. According to Dr Kim Guo Wei, Associate Consultant, Division of Surgical Oncology (Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery), NCIS, studies have shown a strong correlation between Asian flushers and esophageal cancer in particular.  




Jan 2018

Engineered bacteria and broccoli can help keep colorectal cancer away: NUS researchers

Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have succeeded in concocting a cocktail of broccoli and bacteria that can seek out and destroy colorectal cancer cells. Dr Ho, along with Associate Professor Matthew Chang and colorectal cancer specialist Dr Yong Wei Peng from National University Hospital, hope that the discovery can be developed into a preventive drug as well as one that can target the remaining cancer cells after the surgical removal of tumours.

New way to better predict stomach cancer

According to the World Health Organization, Stomach Cancer is the 3rd deadliest cancer in the world. In Singapore, it is the 4th most common cause of cancer death in men, and 5th most common in women, claiming 300 to 500 lives every year. The main reason for this is late detection - 2/3 of Stomach Cancer patients are only diagnosed at an advanced stage. The good news is, researchers from the National University Health System (NUHS) and Duke-NUS Medical School have devised a new genetic sequencing technique to help in the early detection of stomach cancer.

Cheaper option for bone marrow transplants?

Blood cancer patients may be able to pick a cheaper option for bone marrow transplants as a panel looks at whether MediShield Life should cover outpatient treatment. The NCIS has been offering outpatient stem cell transplant treatment for myeloma or blood cancer patients since 2011 and according to Professor Chng Wee Joo, Director and Senior Consultant, NCIS, half of myeloma patients would be suitable for outpatient treatment. However, uptake has mainly been dominated by foreigners as locals are deterred by the high out-of-pocket expense that comes with outpatient care.



Mr Wong Yek Wan, who was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes, a form of cancer where his bone marrow is unable to produce enough healthy blood cells, used to spend a significant amount of his time travelling to and fro the hospital to receive treatment regularly. Now, thanks to the NCIS' home care treatment, Mr Wong is able to receive treatment at the convenience of his own home, administered by a qualified nurse.