About Cancer Research

At the National Cancer Centre of Singapore (NCCS), where we provide care for almost 70 per cent of cancer patients in the public sector, there are close to 140 on-going clinical trials. These include evaluating new treatments, providing patients with new hopes for improved treatment outcomes and better survival.

With cancer research and care under one roof at the NCCS, the knowledge gained from patient-centric research fuels advancement in clinical care, which in turn provides bedside knowledge that drives further research.

From 2007 to mid-2009, the NCC Research Fund administered by the NCCS had supported 28 research projects. In barely a year from August 2010 to July 2011, the Fund received a further 24 research applications seeking support.

In 2010 alone, the NCC Research Fund disbursed close to SGD 5 million for 14 worthwhile cancer research programmes. These included projects related to cancers of the head and neck, liver, gastrointestinal and colorectal, which affect and claim many lives each year.

Some of our significant achievements include:

  Uncovering the potential of a commonly available and cheap medication as an anti-cancer drug

NCCS oncologists are evaluating the efficacy of Aspirin in reducing the risk of recurrence in colorectal cancer, one of the most common cancers in the world and in Singapore. This project has attracted great interest from the international community and has been referenced in several international medical journals – as the study that may change every day clinical practice worldwide and impact the management of stage III and some stage II colorectal cancer globally.

  New improved understanding of gastrointestinal cancers in NCCS patients

It is through analysing data such as treatment patterns and its outcomes, influencing factors and more that we understand how diseases and different patients respond to treatments. A new database of gastrointestinal cases was set up to help to facilitate the analysis of upcoming studies, thus allowing the development of new strategies for successful treatment for the patients.

  Finding factors that promote spread of nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC)

A trigger that could cause NPC to spread was first reported through a NCCS research program in collaboration with the largest NPC centre in the world. Further efforts through collaborations to study the efficacy of developed antibodies that can counter the effects of such factors are underway.

  Developed indicators for making informed decisions on treatment

NCCS doctors and researchers developed a comprehensive geriatric assessment plan that can systematically and scientifically address the issue of under treating elderly patients. Based on information derived from the assessment (involving a questionnaire and a simple, affordable and portable device), physicians and patients can hence make better informed treatment choices.

  New treatment that improved survival for patients with liver cancer, which is prevalent here and in the region

The research involving a collaborative team of scientists, oncologists and surgeons proved a new treatment combining two known drugs – a cancer treatment drug and an immunosuppressant – effective in liver cancer patients with tumours that cannot be surgically removed. The average patient survival rate more than doubled to at least 17 months compared to an average of six months for other patients who had no treatment. NCCS is also engaged in other large multi-centre trials on cancer which have obtained noteworthy outcomes from other combinations of known treatments.