Providing free screenings for the most common cancers in Singapore, namely breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and cervical cancer, will encourage Singaporeans to go for regular screenings and reduce the need for complex and expensive treatments.
Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said this on Thursday (May 18) at the official opening ceremony of the new National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) building.
Wong highlighted that one in four Singaporeans are likely to develop some form of cancer over their lifetimes, based on statistics by NCCS.
“It is a disease that knows no boundaries. It affects Singaporeans young and old. All of us [know someone] afflicted with cancer…So we must continue to work together to deal with cancer as effectively as possible,” he emphasised.
Providing more treatment options, at an affordable cost
Wong pointed out that NCCS has been working steadily to expand treatment options for cancer.
For example, the new building will house a research institute focused on cell therapy, an advanced field in cancer treatment which uses a patient’s own immune cells to fight cancers resistant to chemotherapy.
Efforts have also been made to keep these treatment options affordable for Singaporeans, Wong noted.
For instance, the Ministry of Health (MOH) introduced the cancer drug list in 2022, a list of clinically proven and more cost-effective cancer treatments. Putting together the list allows MOH to engage drug companies to negotiate better prices. This resulted in an average price reduction of 30 per cent for cancer drugs in Singapore.
Cancer prevention and early detection
Wong also affirmed the importance of prevention and early detection in the fight against cancer.
For example, the risk of cancer can be reduced by exercising regularly, or avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, he said.
He added that the new healthcare plan, Healthier SG, will allow family doctors to reinforce these prevention steps and advise patients on how to better take care of their health.
Adults can enrol in Healthier SG from July 2023 onwards.
Lastly, Wong shared that more will be done to encourage Singaporeans to go for regular screenings, which enables cancer to be detected early.
“Early detection can make a huge difference,” Wong pointed out.
He explained that it can reduce the need for complex and expensive treatments, and greatly improve chances of a complete recovery.
The fully subsidised cancer screenings were announced last year in Parliament when Health Minister Ong Ye Kung unveiled the Healthier SG plan.
Along with screenings for common cancers, the government will also provide free screenings for the following common chronic conditions: type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and hyperlipidaemia (high cholesterol).
‘Taking cancer care in Singapore to the next level’
Finally, Wong remarked that the new NCCS building represents a new chapter in their fight against cancer in Singapore.
“With its advanced treatments, expanded capacity, innovative research centres and community care facilities, it will help us take cancer care in Singapore to the next level,” he concluded.
Top image from NCCS website.