What Is Cancer, The Top Cause Of Death In Singapore?

Cancer is a group of diseases characterised by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. These abnormal cells can form a mass of tissue called a tumour, which can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Malignant tumours have the potential to invade nearby tissues and organs, as well as to spread to other parts of the body through a process called metastasis.

Cancer can develop in virtually any part of the body, and there are more than 100 different types of cancer, each with its own unique characteristics and behaviour. 

Cancer Screening By Internal Medicine Specialist

Cancer In Singapore

Cancer is the #1 cause of death in Singapore, accounting for 28.2% of all deaths from 2017-2021.

There were 84,002 new cancer cases reported, with 49% of those being for males and 51% for females. 

The median age of cancer diagnosis among males was 68, whereas for females it was 64. However, a significantly larger proportion of female cancer patients were aged 59 and below (41%) compared to male patients (24%). 

 Source: Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2021.

1 out of 4 cancer
1 out of 4 people in Singapore may develop cancer in their lifetime
Cancer Statistics Singapore

Find out which cancer people in your sex and age group may be most at risk from. 

Articles on top cancer in Singapore by age group – males and females

What Causes Cancer?

Cancer is a result of a combination of factors. Some of the key factors that can contribute to the development of cancer are genetic mutations, environmental factors such as UV, radiation, and chemical exposure as well as  lifestyle factors such as diet, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cancer

 Some of the common signs and symptoms of cancer includes:

  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Ongoing pain
  • Changes in the skin
  • Changes in bowel or urinary habits
  • Persistent cough
  • Lumps or swelling
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Breathing problems
  • Bleeding

The top 5 cancers for males by incidence were prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, lymphoid neoplasms (cancers of the lymphatic system), and liver cancer. In terms of cause of death, the top 5 cancers for males were lung cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer.

On the other hand, the top 5 cancers for females by incidence were breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, uterus cancer, and lymphoid neoplasms. In terms of cause of death, the top 5 female cancers were breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and liver cancer.

Learn More About Cancer In Singapore

Is Cancer Preventable?

While cancer may not always be entirely preventable, many cases of cancer are linked to known risk factors. Doing regular screenings and adopting a healthy lifestyle may significantly lower your risk.

Importance Of Cancer Screening

Many cancers often do not present any symptoms until they have become advanced. What we can do to protect ourselves against the risk of getting cancer is to go for regular cancer screenings. Cancer screening are carried out on people who are asymptomatic (i.e. not experiencing any symptoms of cancer) with the objective of detecting cancer while it is still in the early stages and is more easily treatable. 

Top Silent Killer Cancers

Cancer may have little or no symptoms in the early stages, or have symptoms that are very similar to other conditions. Cancers that are often considered “silent killer” include:

  • Pancreatic cancer (among top 5 leading cancer deaths in males and females)
  • Colorectal cancer (among top 5 leading cancer deaths in males and females)
  • Liver cancer (among top 5 leading cancer deaths in males and females)
  • Lung cancer (among top 5 leading cancer deaths in males and females)
  • Prostate cancer (among top 5 leading cancer deaths in males)
  • Cervical cancer 
  • Ovarian cancer 

Survival Rate For Cancer In Singapore

According to the Singapore Cancer Registry, the five-year Age Standardised Relative Survival for cancers diagnosed at Stages I, II, III and IV were 91.7%, 81.4%, 56.0% and 18.6% respectively. The ten-year ASRS for cancers diagnosed at Stages I, II, III and IV were 87.6%, 76.1%, 47.4% and 13.7% respectively.

Based on the figures, Stage I cancers have the highest survival rate, 91.7% for five-year ASRS and 87.6% for ten-year ASRS. This highlights the importance of regular cancer screening to detect cancer at its early stages when it is more treatable.

Survival Rate Cancer

Case Study: Comparison Between Cancer Screening In South Korea Vs Singapore

Global Cancer Mortality

Data from World Cancer Research Fund International shows that the age-standardised rate for South Korea was at least 75.3 per 100,000 in comparison to Singapore with 111.3 per 100,000. This may be attributed to a combination of factors including comprehensive public health infrastructure, technological advancements, multidisciplinary treatment approach, and patient education initiatives. Aside from these, early detection and screening efforts also play a crucial role in South Korea’s initiative. 

It can also be noted that South Korea’s national recommendation for cancer screening is more comprehensive in comparison to Singapore which includes stomach and liver cancer screening aside from colorectal, breast, and cervical cancer which are among Singapore’s recommended cancer screenings.

Cancer Screening From Health365 Partners

Health365, in partnership with trusted healthcare providers in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand offers health screening packages and cancer screening packages. Discover the available options now.

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