Exploring Singapore’s cutting-edge cancer treatment facilities

Prof Toh Han Chong, Senior Consultant and Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Strategic Partnerships) & Senior Consultant at National Cancer Centre Singapore/File photo

Singapore, a vibrant hub of innovation and world-class healthcare, has emerged as a beacon of hope for individuals battling cancer. With its relentless pursuit of medical excellence and state-of-the-art facilities, the city-state has established itself as a leading destination for advanced cancer treatment. In this article, we delve into the remarkable cancer treatment facilities available in Singapore, where a synergy of groundbreaking technologies, renowned medical professionals, and compassionate care converge to provide patients with unparalleled support and effective treatment options. From innovative research initiatives to comprehensive patient-centric approaches, Singapore's oncology centers offer a glimpse into a future where defeating cancer is no longer an elusive dream but an achievable reality.

Prof Toh Han Chong, Senior Consultant and Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Strategic Partnerships) & Senior Consultant at National Cancer Centre Singapore shared his views with Star Health on his recent visit to Bangladesh.

About the latest developments in cancer treatment that they offer in Singapore, Prof Toh said that they would like to feel that they can get all the drugs available from the western counterparts. For example, when the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, they want to get it as quickly as possible. It means every time there is an agency-approval by the FDA, it is instantly approved in Singapore, whether it is immunotherapy or any conventional therapy.

Singapore is introducing the sophisticated proton beam therapy for cancer treatment. It is for certain people where the cancer is hard to reach and for certain kinds of cancer where you need to minimise side effects. He further said that the Singapore government has invested so much in research. As they invested in research and development over 20 years ago, they have built up a very strong research development reputation.

In an answer to a question how the cancer treatment options are different in Singapore or why should people see cancer treatment, Dr Toh said that they have built a strong healthcare system. Part of it is because of the doctors, nursing and, of course, the technology. A very important thing in healthcare industry is trust. Singapore has built a system of transparency and trust. As best as they can, with all the knowledge of cutting edge research, they try to give the best to the patients.

Dr Toh claimed that they are the best at dealing with the Asian cancers which are probably a bit different in many aspects, for example in head and neck cancers. Therefore, when people come to see them, their care is as good, if not better than the west. For instance, 70% of all liver cancers in the world are diagnosed in Asia today. So, that means that they can treat liver cancer probably better than the west. So that is why people should come to Asia rather than the west for certain cancer treatment.

For cancers, the most important thing is called immune checkpoint inhibitors. That is an antibody that activates the T cells of the immune system to fight the cancer. But to be honest, it has been remarkable in the sense that since about almost ten years ago, there have been many approvals and many survival benefits shown by many large phase trials to show that immunotherapy can actually increases the survival rates. One of the most recent examples is actually the use of immunotherapy in colon cancer. It is better than chemo. In fact, it is increasingly becoming the first line of choice now a days. In a certain kind of cancer, even in solid tumour, in large studies, immunotherapy has replaced other forms of treatment. Liver cancer is an example.

Dr Toh said, "I treat liver cancer a lot, and immunotherapy is the first line of treatment for liver cancer now. So the world has changed from chemotherapy to immunotherapy for several cancers, and sometimes you combine immunotherapy with chemotherapy. So I think for solid tumors, that is the most promising thing."

Dr Toh informed that Asia has the most virus driven cancers. For example, hepatitis B and C. Surveillance is important. The question now is that if a person passed cirrhosis of the liver due to hepatitis B or C.

As we know, prevention is better than cure, Singapore is now approaching to cell therapy and cancer vaccine.


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