Ensure appropriate funding for breast cancer research

A woman undergoing breast cancer screening.
A woman undergoing breast cancer screening.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

I read with interest recent articles on cancer research in Singapore (Test helps doctors decide on cancer treatment, June 22; Scientists find virus strains linked to 'Cantonese cancer', June 20; and Blood test for gastric cancer could be ready by year end, April 4).

The research is exciting, and hopefully will benefit gastric and nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) patients one day.

As a breast cancer patient myself, I looked up the Ministry of Health's National Registry of Diseases Office website out of curiosity. Breast cancer has the highest number of new cases per year in women. Gastric cancer and NPC are ranked seventh and ninth in men, and neither is in the top 10 for women.

In fact, the trend is such that for both gastric cancer and NPC, the numbers have been dropping significantly, whereas for breast cancer, it has been rising rapidly.

We know that only through research will we understand how breast cancer comes about, and try and work out what can be done to stem the rising tide of breast cancer in Singapore.

This is separate from encouraging people to go for screening or mammograms for early detection.

Are MOH's research funding bodies giving, at the very least, the same level of support for breast cancer laboratory research, as for the less common gastric cancer and NPC? There are many breast cancer patients in Singapore who certainly hope so, for the sake of their daughters, granddaughters and beyond.

Quek Soh Mui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2019, with the headline 'Ensure appropriate funding for breast cancer research'. Print Edition | Subscribe