The next piece in the multibillion-dollar redevelopment plan for the Outram Campus is a new National Cancer Centre by 2020. It will be bigger and better than the current place, boosting treatment for patients.

The new facility will be able to accommodate a Proton machine weighing around 200 tonnes.

The state-of the-art cancer-killer can target tumours with sub-millimetre precision, so there is less collateral damage to surrounding tissues or organs during treatment.

Cancer is the top killer here, accounting for 30 per cent of the 19,393 deaths last year.

It is also the second major cause for hospitalisation, after accidents, poisoning and violence.

The new centre will also set aside more space for cancer research, training and education, said a Ministry of Health (MOH) spokesman.

It will occupy the space vacated by the Singapore General Hospital's (SGH) pathology department, which has moved into new and bigger premises at the Academia in Outram. Work on it will begin next year.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong told The Straits Times: "The Outram Campus redevelopment plan is a long-term plan to systematically refresh the healthcare facilities on the campus to meet the needs of the population for the future."

The project, expected to span the next two decades, was mentioned recently by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when he updated residents in the area during the People's Action Party's first election rally in Tanjong Pagar. He told them: "By the time we finish, it will have more capacity, more equipment, (be) more modernised and you will have better service on your doorstep."

Mr Gan said work had already started on this massive project: "The first few pieces are done or in progress. The rest will be done over the next 20 years."

One of the first beneficiaries has been SGH's pathology department. In 2013, it moved into the Academia, one of the first new buildings in the Outram development masterplan. The Academia also houses research laboratories and education and training facilities.

Also up is the new National Heart Centre which opened last year, while work has started on the nearby 550-bed Outram Community Hospital, expected to open in 2020.

Between now and 2025, parts of SGH will be expanded, including its emergency department which treats more than 2,500 patients a week. However, major redevelopment of SGH will take place only from 2025 to 2035.

The MOH spokesman said SGH, which moved to Outram Road in 1882, is "the cradle of medicine in Singapore". It will be upgraded and modernised to "make it patient- and elder-friendly, and facilitate smoother operations and staff productivity".

She explained that the redevelopment will span decades because the hospital and specialist centres will continue their work while construction is going on.

She added: "When completed by 2035, the redeveloped SGH, together with the national specialist centres, will ensure that patients will receive quality healthcare that is easily accessible, integrated and seamlessly connected."