New NCCS Building and Proton Therapy Centre
The NCCS sees over 135,000 patient-visits a year. The estimated cancer patient volume is predicted to increase three-fold by year 2030. To meet the manifold and increasing needs in cancer care, a new NCCS building, which is slated to be ready between year 2019 to 2020, will be built.
In 2012, the Ministry of Health gave approval to establish a Proton Beam Therapy facility within the new NCCS building. As proton beam therapy is the cutting edge in radiation therapy, this will be a major milestone in cancer care for our community and for Singapore as Asia’s leading medical hub.
The set-up of a state-of-the-art Proton Beam Therapy Centre will make the NCCS and Singapore the first to offer proton therapy in Southeast Asia. This move will provide a great boost for NCCS’ efforts in providing the best care to combat cancer and participating in ongoing research to optimise use of this therapy.
Worldwide as of 31 Jan 2014, more than 100,000 patients have been treated in 46 centres operating in 14 countries in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The centres nearest to Singapore are in Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
What exactly is Proton Therapy?
Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy that destroys cancer cells using positively charged subatomic particles (protons) instead of the x-rays used in standard radiation therapy.
The unique feature of this therapy is that the energy of proton beams can be controlled to precisely release high-dose cancer-cell-killing energy directly in the tumour.
Advantages of Proton Therapy:
- Patients can benefit from minimal radiation exposure and damage to nearby healthy tissues and organs, and hence reduced treatment-related side effects.
- It allows where appropriate, a higher dose to be delivered to the tumour with the potential for better control or cure.
- It can be used to treat recurrent cancers that standard x-ray radiation therapy may not be able to.
Who can benefit from Proton Therapy?
Both adult and paediatric patients can benefit from proton therapy. It is particularly effective for treating patients with tumours in difficult-to-treat areas of the body such as the brain or near critical organs, and in children.
We believe about 15% of all the patients seen by the NCCS Radiation Oncology Department will benefit from the proton treatment over the standard x-ray treatment.
Proton therapy is suitable and effective for the treatment of a wide range of cancers as proton beams exhibit clearly superior dose distributions over X-rays. However, not all patients will require it over X-ray therapy. NCCS doctors will recommend the optimal treatment for each patient based on the individual’s medical condition, needs and suitability.
It has been used to treat cancers such as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), head and neck tumours including nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), prostate and lung cancers, which are endemic to Singapore and the region. It has also increasingly been used in the treatment of paediatric cancers (including skull-base, spinal and paraspinal tumours, medulloblastomas, parameningeal rhabdomyosarcomas, retinoblastomas, pelvic sarcomas, central optic pathway and low grade gliomas). With advances in medical technology in recent years, cure rates for childhood malignancies have increased.
With the support of philanthropic individuals and institutions, the NCCS will be acquiring this advanced proton technology to make available in five years’ time, to cancer patients.
You can help support NCCS’s Proton Therapy Programme by making a contribution through the Community Cancer Fund managed by the NCCS. Find out how at Ways of Giving.