Ending Cancer as We Know It in Southeast Asia

Dialogues - Ending Cancer - 2023-04-18

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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.

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Mr Ho Swee Huat

Mr Ho Swee Huat is the Founder and Managing Director of Abacus Assets Advisors Pte Ltd. Before starting the company, he had an established career in the banking industry, with 20 years of experience in Singapore, Hong Kong and New York.

He was an Independent Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of CapitaCommercial Trust Management LTD from 2004 to 2013.

He is the current Chairman of Autism Association (Singapore) which he co-founded with a group of parents in 1992. He is also Vice-Chairman of Eden School, a special school for children with autism.

Mr Ho holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Liberal Arts degree in Economics from Hamilton College, USA.

He has been a member of the Board of the Foundation since its incorporation.