Radiation sessions cut sharply for some

Dr Ho Gay Hui, a senior consultant at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) department of surgical oncology

The National Cancer Centre Singapore has rolled out a new radiation technique that reduces treatments for breast cancer patients from 30 sessions to just one.

The new treatment, called Intra-operative radiotherapy, involves delivering a single shot of radiotherapy at the time of the lump removal surgery.

It takes 30 minutes compared to conventional radiotherapy treatment, which is delivered five days a week over a six-week period.

The reduced treatment time is significant given that some women choose a mastectomy over the inconvenience of prolonged radiotherapy.

Only a select group of breast cancer patients, however, can undergo this treatment.

Tumours must be no bigger than 3cm in diameter and the cancer must not have spread to the lymph node.

At a press conference at the centre on tuesday, doctors stressed the importance of screening for early detection for the best results.

Dr Ho Gay Hui, senior consultant at NCCS, said: "The treatment may not be applicable to all patients. But it is particularly good for those whose breast cancer is detected at an early stage.

"This reinforces the need for women to go for regular screening so that the cancer can be more effectively treated before it gets out of hand."

Six patients have undergone this treatment so far. The first case was treated in June this year.

To underscore the preventive measures that can be taken against this cancer, a nation-wide mammogram screening will be launched next month for three months. The organisers hope that as many as 5,000 women will be screened during this period.

The Singapore Cancer Society will be extending a S$25 subsidy for all eligible women to get mammography screening at participating polyclinics, hospitals and diagnostics centres.

On average, 368 women died of breast cancer in Singapore between the years 2002 to 2006, which makes it the most common form of cancer among women here.


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