New National Cancer Centre Singapore building to improve patients' access to treatment

SINGAPORE - The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) is getting a new building and when it is expected to be completed in 2022, it will include more facilities which aim to increase patients' access to cancer treatment and allow it to see double the number of patients.

To further support cancer prevention here, NCCS has also set up a new division for this.

The new 24-storey building, situated on the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) campus, will house more facilities for cancer care and rehabilitation, research and education, NCCS said at a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday (June 2) for the new building. The current NCCS building has only six storeys. It will be replaced by the new building.

The cancer centre's new building will have a larger capacity, allowing it to manage some 200,000 patient visits a year when it opens in 2022, compared to 150,000 visits last year with the old building. It expects to handle some 300,000 patient visits come 2030.

At the new building, each disease group, such as breast cancer or colorectal cancer, will have its own dedicated space to house clinical, research and education facilities. Currently, one specialist oncology clinic treats a few cancer types.

There will be more "clean laboratories" at the new building as well. The old building has four clean labs but the new building will have at least 20 of them. These labs extract healthy cells from the patient, prime them against cancer cells and infuse them back into the patient to fight diseases.

Services at the cancer centre's new building will also be organised according to cancer sites - such as the head and neck, blood, and lung - which will help to improve operational efficiencies for staff.

The new building will have a layout with patients in mind. These includes lifts which are easily seen and accessed from reception areas on each floor, reducing the time for patients to get around.

Patients will also be able to make more informed decisions on cancer care and treatment, with a new resource centre that has materials on cancer.

The building will also be home to a $100 million proton therapy centre, named the Goh Cheng Liang Proton Therapy Centre. It will provide a new form of radiation therapy that precisely targets and destroys cancer cells, minimising the damage to healthy tissues.

Singaporean businessman Goh Cheng Liang and the Goh Foundation are major donors to the centre and its research programme, and gave $50 million.

Said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, in his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony: "NCCS will do more to support cancer prevention and has set up a new Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Health for this purpose."

The division will focus on three core areas, namely cancer genomics, epidemiology, as well as screening and control, he added.

It will identify ways to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality by investigating cancer causes and risk factors, such as genetic and environmental factors. It will also conduct clinical and community-based intervention studies in targeted populations.

Said NCCS director Soo Khee Chee: "The new centre will make the patient's journey through a difficult situation, and complex environment, much easier now."