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“No. 1 killer”

Curable Cancer

Dr Lim said: “In Singapore, cancer is the No. 1 killer and projected figures show that one in two men and four in 10 women will contract some kind of cancer in their lifetime.”

He explained that as people live longer, it is more likely that they will get cancer due to increased chance of cancerous genetic changes in their DNA.

Customised suite of treatments

Dr Lim feels that there are now many new options available to cancer patients. 

As this is a severe diagnosis that comes with serious life-changing connotation, the patients will require time and all-rounded discussion to gain sufficient understanding of their condition,” he said.

“Every patient is different, and treatment varies according to the patient, their preferences and support system as well as the type of cancer.”

For example, medical history, existing medical issues, nutritional status, patient’s physical condition and age all affect the treatment process.

Hence, Novena Cancer Centre develops a suite of personalised treatments and support system for each cancer patient.

Cancer treatment is also very much more different in the past decade, added Dr Lim. “Compared to 20 years ago, when there were only a few drugs for the treatment of cancer, we now have hundreds and thousands of anti-cancer agents. Even within the same class of cancer, we can further subdivide it by its molecular characteristics and genomic profiling. This accounts for varied characteristics and behavior of the cancer and allows individualisation of treatment. For example, breast cancer is no longer just breast cancer, but it is a specific clinical, histo-pathological, molecular and genomic subtype of breast cancer.”

Dr Lim further explained that cancer is not only a disease of the gene, but an interaction between the gene, the environment and the host’s immune system. With advancement in medical research, there are drugs now able to specifically target a particular subtype of cancer cells to achieve treatment effects, such as specifically targeting individual tumour cell, to eradicate it.

“So we have a very directed and targeted therapy, which is commonly known as the ‘magic bullet’,” said Dr Lim.

Apart from looking at the molecular characteristics of cancer on a single cell level, treatment of cancer is commonly a multidisciplinary endeavor. The multidisciplinary care team involves medical oncologist, surgeons, radiation oncologists, interventional radiologist, nuclear medicine physicians and well-trained nurses, coming together to coordinate the best personalised cancer patient care.

Supporting patients and family

With many years of oncology practice in the US, Dr Lim, who is fully American board-certified in oncology, has abundant all-rounded world-class hands-on cancer care experience and knowledge.

“What cancer patients really need is a strong support system,” said Dr Lim, “and this involves everyone from nurses to family members and friends who frequently are the patient’s caregiver. It’s a coordinated social effort.”

“Patients have to know that cancer can be curable, and that they can continue to go out and lead an active high-quality lifestyle.”

Dr Lim feels that his practice’s location at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital is ideal. “The hospital has invested in the latest technologies and treatment facilities to achieve the best cancer care. Many of the country’s foremost physicians and surgeons have also aggregated to this hospital with world-class facilities to provide the best oncology care for the patient. The environment is very comfortable for patients and family and the rooms and facilities are well maintained. Apart from physicians, it also has a full range of rehabilitative and support staffs to optimise care for the patient and support for the families in this time of medical adversity.”

Novena Cancer Centre takes the coordination work off the shoulders of patients and their family, and links them up with a comprehensive support network, together with customised, state-of-the-art treatment.

“There are several stages in cancer treatment, such as radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, nuclear medical treatments, hormonal therapy and immunotherapy. Without a person to carefully organise and guide the patient through the treatment, the patient will not be able to figure out what to do next,” said Dr Lim.

Battling the notion of hopelessness

“Patients have to know that cancer can be curable, and that they can continue to go out and lead an active high-quality lifestyle,” said Dr Lim For example, over 80 per cent of early stage breast and colorectal cancers, the most common forms of cancer in Singapore, can be cured without a relapse.“

Even for cancers that are not curable, I have patients who live on for many years with nearnormal lifestyles. They work and they go on holidays. All they need is personalised treatment strategy customised towards their lifestyle needs. This may mean medical therapies interspersed with breaks and treatment holidays,” said Dr Lim.

And if patients come in claiming they are waiting for the inevitable demise, Dr Lim has a reply ready. “I tell them that I’m also waiting for the inevitable demise. The truth is this comes to everyone. It usually surprises them a bit, and they start seeing hope in their situation and begin focusing on living a fulfilling life while getting treatment for their disease. The battle against cancer is not an easy one, but through it all, our team is here to support and guide our patients. We are there to give them hope,” said Dr Lim with a smile.


Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

38 Irrawaddy Road #09-41, Singapore 329563

Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri: 9am - 6pm
Sat: 9am - 1pm

Contact number: 6339 0233

Mount Alvernia Hospital

820 Thomson Road #07-58, Medical Centre D,
Singapore 574623

Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri: 9am - 6pm
Sat: 9am - 1pm

Contact number: 6339 0233
Fax: 6339 1338