Feature - Cancer Treatment in Singapore

Travis Jones of Pacific Prime Singapore explains the state of cancer care and research in Singapore, how to make sure you’re covered, and why you should consider Singapore as a medical destination...

There's no doubt that cancer is one of the last diseases that a person would choose to have. However, as the second leading cause of death worldwide, it may be the disease that people put the most focus on. This is true nowhere more so than in Singapore, where innovative new treatments for cancer are constantly being developed and new equipment is being used to show the merits of technology in battling various cancers. In this article, we'll take a look at the state of cancer in Singapore and highlight the reasons why the city is a great spot to be when in need of cancer treatment.

In the past decade or so, Singapore has very much become a destination for health care needs. The focus on the medical industry in the city-state has led to great advances in medical infrastructure and research facilities due to significant investments being made in the sector. For cancer specifically, private organizations like the Singapore Cancer Society provide funding for deserving research projects. The government also gives funding to organizations like the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore), which is located at the National University of Singapore. This funding allows CSI Singapore to stay at the forefront of cancer treatment technologies such as stem cell, epigenetics and experimental therapeutics programs, and focus on developing new cures for the most common types of cancer found in Singapore, including breast cancer, gastric cancer and leukemia.

So which medical facility is best suited to treat cancer in Singapore? The fact is that there are a number of excellent treatment centers to choose from. The National Cancer Center Singapore (NCCS) is home to many internationally renowned cancer experts, with specializations in all different types of cancers. Recognized as one of the world's top cancer treatment centers, NCCS normally spends between eight and ten percent of its annual revenue on new technologies. Mount Elizabeth Medical Center is a private hospital that provides top notch cancer treatment for those that are less inclined to use public hospitals. For women that want to check for breast or cervical cancer, KK Women's and Children's Hospital specializes in caring for women's issues and has the experience needed to diagnose and treat female cancers.

The above facilities employ some of the most up-to-date treatments to fight cancer, but what are these new treatments and how do they work? Scientists in Singapore are always hard at work developing new treatments for cancer patients. As recently as June 2012, researchers discovered a new medication that may prove to be very effective in treating lymphoma. In April 2012, Singapore General Hospital began using a “new wonder treatment” for liver cancer suffers. Whenever there is an advancement in the world of cancer treatment, it quite often either comes from Singapore or will be found in Singapore soon. Areas of advancement that are currently being focused on include stem cell research, epigenetics, genomic oncology and experimental therapeutics. Stem cell research is a line of study concerning the cells that lead to cancer. Doctors in Singapore have identified the stem cells for some types of cancer, which they hope will lead to a better understanding of how cancer starts and how it can be stopped in early stages, or even before becoming malignant. Epigenetics studies gene activity that can cause people to have a predisposition towards certain cancers. In 2012, researchers from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School used epigenetics to find new subtypes of stomach cancer. Being able to distinguish between different types of stomach cancer that were previously unknown allows doctors to find the best treatment for a specific type of cancer. Genomic oncology revolves around finding out what causes tumors to form and discovering what it is about certain cancer cells that makes them immune to certain therapies. Like stem cell research, genomic oncology is all about identifying the causes of cancer, but also going a step further to try and map the inner workings of cancer cells. The Genomic Institute of Singapore’s experimental therapeutics are focused on extrapolating data in order to develop new medications, technology platforms and products that can be used to fight cancer via chemistry and biochemistry. In Singapore, the premier organization for experimental therapeutics is the Experimental Therapeutics Center.

Undoubtedly, it is fantastic that all of this great research is being done in Singapore, since it is leading to cutting edge treatments to be used by locals and medical tourists alike - but along with new treatments come high price tags. Even traditional treatments, like chemotherapy, can cost thousands of dollars a week, while new treatments may end up being ten times that or more. If you want high quality health care , you will most likely have to pay a bit more for it, as evidenced by Singapore’s ranking as the 4th most expensive destination for medical treatment in Asia and the 33rd most expensive in the world. However, these costs don't seem so high considering that the World Health Organization ranked Singapore as having the best overall healthcare system in Asia and the 6th best in the world.

In order to make sure that you and your family are able to both take advantage of Singapore's advanced cancer treatments and receive them without amassing tremendous medical debt, it would be a good idea to be certain that you have excellent health insurance coverage. MediSave has limits set for cancer treatments that may not even come close to paying for proper care, especially at a high quality private medical facility. For instance, outpatient chemotherapy coverage limits through MediSave are only $300 a week, while the cost of treatment could be thousands of dollars. Obtaining good health insurance coverage can offset some of the leftover costs for this type of treatment and ensure that you and your family are well cared for. Even with insurance, making sure that you have the coverage that you require is important, so make sure to partner with a company you can trust that has agents with your best interest in mind.

People in Singapore are fortunate to have a top-notch health care system that can address all of their needs. Treating cancer in the city is no different. The important thing is to make sure that you are able to have access to the best treatments that Singapore has to offer without having to break the bank. That way you can rest easy knowing that any unexpected illness in your family will be addressed quickly and easily.

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This article is sponsored by Pacific Prime Singapore Insurance Agency Pte Ltd

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