​The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) Proton Beam Therapy Centre will open in 2021 as South East Asia’s first facility that offers the cutting-edge treatment.

Proton beam therapy (PBT) is an advanced type of cancer treatment that is safer and has significantly reduced side effects compared to conventional X-ray radiation therapy. It involves accelerating protons from a hydrogen atom up to 70% of the speed of light and then aiming the beam at the tumour in the body to destroy it. It is done with a much higher precision than conventional therapy, minimising damage to the surrounding tissue and reducing exposure to radiation. 

In Asia, the therapy is only available in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. However, South East Asia will soon have its own Proton Beam Therapy Centre. The Centre is set up by NCCS in its new 24-storey building in Outram Road, slated to open in 2021. NCCS announced yesterday that the system will be provided by Hitachi. The system will have four full-rotating gantries, weighing 160 tonnes each, and a fixed beam room.

Cancer is the number one cause of death in Singapore. With NCCS tending to most public-sector institutions’ cancer patients, the system is expected to benefit up to 1,000 patients a year.

NCCS bringing in proton beam therapy for safer cancer treatment

Advantages of Proton Therapy:
1) Patients can benefit from minimal radiation exposure and damage to nearby healthy tissues and organs, and hence reduced treatment-related side effects.
2) It allows where appropriate, a higher dose to be delivered to the tumour with the potential for better control or cure.
3) It can be used to treat recurrent cancers that standard x-ray radiation therapy may not be able to.
Source: NCCS website

Professor Soo Khee Chee, SingHealth Deputy Group CEO (Research & Education) and Director of NCCS, said, “NCCS aims to provide the best in cancer care. Proton beam therapy benefits cancer patients as they experience fewer side effects. It will also spur Singapore’s medical community to look for new remedies for cancer. We are also excited about the research possibilities that will open up when the facility is established.”

PBT treatments are most beneficial in the case of deep seated tumours which are surrounded by critical organs such as the brain. It is also effective for some paediatric cancers and re-radiation. NCSS will run clinical trials for application in other cancers and conduct studies on optimising the dosage.

The centre has been looking into bringing PBT earlier, but its size and cost had been prohibitive. The Goh Foundation is funding half of the $100million system, and NCCS is looking towards more donations to fund this project.

You can help support NCCS’s Proton Therapy Programme by making a contribution through the Community Cancer Fund managed by the NCCS. Find out how at This Link.