More people getting cancer since 2010

Some 1,800 more people were diagnosed with cancer in 2014 than four years earlier, new figures reveal.

The latest cancer report released by the National Registry of Diseases Office shows that there were 13,241 cases in 2014 and also estimates that one in four men and one in five women here are likely to get cancer by the time they are 75 years old.

The disease remains Singapore's biggest killer and the deadliest type remains lung cancer, which killed more than three people a day from 2010 to 2014. In those five years, a total of 6,899 people were diagnosed with lung cancer and 5,732 died of it.

The most common cancer type for men is colorectal (4 per cent will get it by the age of 75); for women, breast (7 per cent by age 75).

A total of 9,320 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 2010 and 2014, and 3,723 died.

The report said that while it is the most commonly found cancer here, the number of cases appears to have plateaued since 1995 and has been decreasing gradually in recent years.

This cancer generally hits people over the age of 40 years and rises sharply from around the mid-60s.

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More than half the colorectal cancer cases were discovered in later stages when the tumour is no longer contained within the colon or rectum.

But with better treatment, about 10 per cent more people survived for at least five years from 2010 than they did from 2005.

The report said there was an overall increase in the survival rate for colorectal cancer for both genders. This was seen almost across the board for all ethnicities, age bands and stages of the disease.

The next most common cancer is breast cancer, which accounts for almost one in three cancers in women. In the five years from 2010 to 2014, a total of 9,274 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.

More than seven in 10 breast cancer patients survived at least five years in this period. The survival rate was 67.5 per cent in the previous five-year period.

The highest survival rates of 80 to 90 per cent were among women who discovered the cancer early, before it spread beyond the breasts. More than 400 women a year die of breast cancer.

Professor Chng Wee Joo, director of the National University Cancer Institute, said, "Cancer incidence is rising because of an ageing population ... (with) better treatment cancer patients are surviving longer."

He added that the focus of doctors now has shifted somewhat. In the past, it was centred on how long they can extend survival - "now it is how to make these patients feel less like cancer patients".

This article was first published on March 19, 2016.
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