NCCS, Singapore’s national specialty centre for complex cancer care, has a spacious new home with innovative treatment and research facilities to meet future needs.

National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) officially opened its new premises on 18 May 2023.

The new 24-storey centre has a total floor space of 92,000 square metres, which is about five times larger than its old premises. It has expanded capacity for care and treatment with 64 consultation rooms, 14 radiotherapy units and 108 recliner chairs and beds for chemotherapy — approximately double what the old building had. The three day-surgery operating theatres and two endoscopy suites now triple the space dedicated to diagnostic and surgical procedures.

<Photo: Singapore Press Holdings>

Coping with the changing health landscape

Singapore is one of the fastest-ageing nations in the world; about one in four will be aged 65 or older by 2030. The average life expectancy here — 83.5 years — is among the highest in the world, but that also means a higher chance of cancers developing among the population. Between 2016 and 2020, nearly 81,000 new cancer cases were reported, and that number is expected to grow. As Singapore’s national specialty centre for complex cancer care, NCCS sees the majority of cancer cases in the public sector and offers the full suite of cancer care — from prevention, diagnosis and treatment to survivorship and palliative care. The move to the bigger, new centre was necessary to cope with the projected increase in cancer cases here.

Watch a video tour of the new NCCS building here.

Patient-centric design

In addition to expanded capacity, the new building is designed with the patient in mind.

It is easily accessible by public transport and links directly to the Outram MRT station via a covered bridge. Other patient services offered include home delivery of medications and home-care programmes. Technology is deployed throughout the building to enhance safety and efficiency — one example is the use of robots to deliver chemotherapy drugs to treatment suites.

<Photo: Singapore Press Holdings>

Clinical, training and research facilities for each type of cancer are closely located to facilitate collaboration and improve convenience for patients. For example, a breast cancer patient can see the doctor, get a mammogram, receive financial counselling and get medications reviewed on the same floor. This also allows healthcare professionals to closely collaborate to improve care. “The integration and co-location of research and clinical services in the new NCCS will further boost collaborations and enable us to drive patient-informed scientific inquiry that leads to better patient outcomes,” said Professor Lim Soon Thye, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Clinical), NCCS.

Programmes focused on adolescents and young adults, geriatric oncology, and young women with breast cancer take holistic care of patients in specific age brackets who have specific needs that require support.

Holistic integrated care

NCCS’ cancer care extends beyond the walls of the new building.

Patients have access to supportive and palliative care regardless of their stage of cancer, and are backed by cancer support groups, programmes and educational resources to achieve long-term quality of life.

To serve patients closer to their homes, NCCS runs satellite clinics in Changi General Hospital, Sengkang General Hospital and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

In line with the nation’s Healthier SG strategy, NCCS will continue to work with primary care and community partners to provide accessible care and rehabilitation. For example, the Singapore Cancer Society is housed in the new NCCS to extend public education and community outreach efforts to raise cancer awareness.

Enhanced research capability

The new NCCS has almost 10,000 square metres of space dedicated to advance cancer research, where scientists and clinician-scientists can collaborate and innovate to improve treatment outcomes.

The building houses the Cancer Discovery Hub, where scientists use specialised services and novel technologies to uncover the mechanics and development of cancer, and enhanced capacity and capability to conduct clinical trials of new cancer therapies. There is also space for strategic partners, such as the Advanced Cell Therapy and Research Institute, Singapore (ACTRIS), which aims to facilitate the discovery, process development and manufacturing of cellular-based therapeutics.

The building is also home to the NCCS Tissue Bank — a satellite of the SingHealth Tissue Repository — which banks tissue samples from Asian cancer patients. This will enable researchers to gain a better understanding of cancer evolution in Asian patients.

With operations at its new premises in full swing since March 2023, Professor William Hwang (above), Chief Executive Officer, NCCS, said, “The new NCCS building is geared to meet future healthcare needs and provide affordable, accessible care to all Singaporeans. Our new centre is built around patients’ needs, with larger, improved facilities and innovative care programmes run by dedicated healthcare teams. The ultimate goal is to provide holistic support every step of the cancer journey, so that NCCS serves as a beacon of hope for all our patients.”

New and enhanced facilities at the NCCS building

  • Goh Cheng Liang Proton Therapy Centre

The Goh Cheng Liang Proton Therapy Centre, which is supported by a $50 million gift from the Goh Foundation, offers proton therapy, an advanced type of radiation therapy. The Centre has four treatment gantries where proton therapy is delivered to patients. Proton therapy is an advanced radiation treatment that precisely targets and destroys cancer cells while minimising damage to surrounding healthy tissues and causing fewer side effects.

  • Ambulatory Treatment Unit

In the Ambulatory Treatment Unit (ATU), robots are used to deliver prepared chemotherapy drugs from the oncology pharmacy to treatment suites, freeing up nurses to spend more time attending to patients. There are 108 recliner chairs and beds for patients who receive treatment in the treatment suites. In addition to its core role of delivering chemotherapy, procedures such as bone marrow aspiration and lumbar puncture are also performed at the ATU.

  • Multidisciplinary Hubs

On clinic floors, multidisciplinary hubs are where healthcare teams convene to plan personalised care for their patients. Located behind the 64 consultation rooms, the multidisciplinary hubs provide space for medical, radiation and surgical oncologists to discuss with each other on care plans. Consultations, scans, biopsies and treatments are all located nearby or on the same floor to make visits more convenient and comfortable for patients.

  • Cancer Discovery Hub

The Cancer Discovery Hub (CDH) spearheads national-level initiatives on blood cancers, and supports biomarker discovery and clinical trials for breast and liver cancers. The CDH creates cell lines and 3D cancer models called organoids to facilitate high-impact research, and is also leading the setup of a national tumour organoid biobank. Assistant Professor Jason Chan, Director, CDH, cited a unique case, presented at a major cancer conference in the US earlier this year, of a pair of identical twins with a rare type of blood cancer treated at NCCS using advanced technologies at the CDH, such as single-cell sequencing and spatial profiling.

Get the latest updates about Singapore Health in your mailbox! Click here to subscribe.