Asia bears a huge proportion of the 19 million new cancer cases annually worldwide. Cancer being overwhelmingly a disease of the elderly, and with Asia’s ageing population, cancer will become a more important problem in the region.
On 18 April 2023, The HEAD Foundation Dialogues welcomed Dr Tan Min-Han, Founding CEO and Medical Director of Lucence, who spoke on “Ending Cancer as We Know It in Southeast Asia”.
Economically, Asia’s cancer burden will cost $10 trillion for the next 30 years, with $2.3 trillion coming from Southeast Asia. Given such numbers, the disease will disproportionally affect Asia, especially the poor. Unfortunately, currently, screening resources are limited in Southeast Asia.
Detecting cancer as early and as accurately as possible is key to best outcomes. However, 78% of cancer deaths are from unscreened cancers like liver, stomach, pancreas, nasopharyngeal cancer. Common cancers in the region such as lung, nasopharynx and leukaemia are not routinely screened, and screening can be inaccessible, invasive and painful for patients.
To help address such challenges, Dr Tan discussed multi-cancer early detection (MCED) tests such as blood tests. DNA fragments in blood are new cancer markers that can indicate cancer mutations and cancer viruses. This can detect the most common cancers in the region that can also be treated at an early stage. Approaches to multi-cancer early detection, however, are influenced by various factors such as the cancer profiles in the region and stakeholder reimbursement, determining whether to test for multiple cancers or focus on one type of cancer.
Dr Lim Chwee Ming, Senior Consultant at the Otorhinolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery department at Singapore General Hospital, joined the Q&A panel to add to the discussion.
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the speakers in this webinar are their own and do not represent the opinions of The HEAD Foundation.