Farrer park hospital, which opened in March 2016, is sited within Connexion, Singapore’s first, fully integrated healthcare and hospitality complex.
Connexion is also Asia’s first, integrated lifestyle hub for healthcare and wellness and houses the 220bed Farrer Park Hospital with more than 400 accredited specialists, 18 operating rooms, and 189 clinic specialist medical centre, along with a five-star hotel and spa.
Oncology is one of the prominent specialties in the hospital, and being a strong advocate for preventive care, the facility also houses HealthConnexion, a new health screening and preventative medicine initiative that offers customisable, comprehensive solutions beyond standard health assessments.
Specialists from Farrer Park Hospital here share more about the symptoms, screening and management of these diseases.
Dr Kong Po Marn
Consultant Chest Physician and Internist Farrer Park Medical Centre
Lung cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Every year, there are 1.6 million cases globally and it is deadlier than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.
The poor prognosis may be attributed to the fact that 75 per cent of these lung cancers are advanced by the time of diagnosis. Though chronic smokers account for the largest number of lung cancer cases, there has been an increase among those who have never smoked.
About 15-20 per cent of lung cancers in men and more than half the cases in women occur in non-smokers. In Asia, the proportion in women is even higher at 60-80 per cent. This compares with only 19 percent of women in the US.
The most common presentation of lung cancer is usually accompanied with cough, which is seen in 50 to 75 percent of cases. While most coughs are benign, a new persistent cough in a smoker should raise suspicion and warrant further investigation.
In some cases, the cough may be accompanied by sudden increase in phlegm production. Other symptoms include hemoptysis or the coughing of blood; which is seen in 25 to 40 percent of cases.
Early diagnosis leads to a much better outcome and early screening through the Computed Tomography (CT) Low Dose Lung Screen and Lung Function Test is a common procedure and is efficient in detecting small cancers. The CT scanner can produce 640 slices of multiple cross-sectional body images in one rotation in between a single heartbeat.
While advanced lung cancer carries a serious prognosis, much work is being done so that patients may get better outcomes. And with newer treatments coming on line, patients may look towards better outcomes.
Dr Vincent Lai
Consultant Gastroenterologist Farrer Park Medical Centre
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of liver cancer worldwide and the third-most-common cause of cancer related deaths globally. Other rare liver cancer types include cholangiocarcinoma and angiosarcoma. HCC accounts for approximately 780,000 deaths per annum globally and 75 per cent of the disease burden occurs in Asia.
The disease is more prevalent in males above the age of 50 and 85 per cent of HCCs are due to hepatitis B or C (HBV and HCV). The rest would be due to aflatoxins (cancer causing substances) or cirrhosis (irreversible scarring of the liver) caused by alcohol, fatty liver disease or autoimmune hepatitis.
The early stages of primary liver cancer may not be in the form of any major symptoms but it is the later stages that symptoms such as pain in the abdomen or near the right shoulder blade, an enlarged spleen, felt as a mass under the ribs on the left side, loss of appetite, weight loss and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).
Screening is advisable for at risk individuals who smoke, consume alcohol regularly, have chronic hepatitis or have strong history of liver cancer in the family. There is a 60 percent chance of cure if the cancer is diagnosed early, as compared to less than 30 percent for advanced liver cancer.
An Ultrasound Scan is a simple, imaging technique using high frequency ultrasound waves to visualise internal organs for possible pathologies or lesions. There is no radiation involved nor is it invasive.
As majority of the HCC are caused by HBV or HCV in Asia, adequate management of these underlying risks factors will lead to a decrease risk of cancer developing. There are now good antivirals that can surpress the HBV virus long term hence preventing progression of the liver disease to cirrhosis and subsequent liver failure.
Selecting at risks individuals to undergo regular 6 monthly screening, can detect early cancer hence increasing the chance of cure.
Dr Karen Yap
Consultant Breast and General Surgeon Farrer Park Medical Centre
Breast cancer is a disease affecting mostly middle-aged women. Similar to what is seen in the West, in the Asia-Pacific region it is also the most common cancer among women, accounting for 18% of all cancer cases in women in 2012. In Singapore, about 5 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day and we have observed an almost three-fold increase in the breast cancer incidence from 1971 to 2014.
Cancer is a disease caused by the uncontrolled division of cells. It takes many years, perhaps even decades, for cancer to develop. In its early stages, breast cancer does not cause any symptoms. When detected whilst in its early stages, breast cancer is highly treatable.
Mammogram is recommended for screening women from age 40. As Asian women’s breasts are denser, it is useful to do an ultrasound in addition to the mammogram. New technology such as MicroDose mammography reduces the radiation dose required for each mammogram.
In hereditary breast cancer, which occurs in 5 to 10 per cent of breast cancer cases, a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene speeds up the process of breast cancer development. These cancers usually occur at an earlier age.
Breast MRI has been shown to be useful in screening this group of women. The treatment of breast cancer varies with the type and the stage of thecancer and the patient’s choice. A combined team effort involving the breast surgical oncologist, the medical oncologist and the radiation oncologist ensures an optimal result.
At Farrer Park Hospital, the various oncology specialties, optimum facilities and state-of-the-art technology ensure that patients receive the best care possible. And with prompt and proper treatment, the survivability and quality of life of Breast Cancer survivors is generally very good in the majority of early breast cancer cases. We encourage all ladies to have a positive mindset, to go for regular breast screening and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
For enquiries Farrer Park Hospital:
1 Farrer Park Station Road #02-01 Connexion
Tel: +65 67052754