Cancer is a disease where abnormal cells divide without control and, most times, form a lump (called a tumour) as their numbers increase. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic systems to other parts of the body.
In Singapore, cancer is the major cause of death, accounting for about 30 per cent of all deaths in 2011. A total of 54,001 cases were diagnosed between 2007 and 2011. Cancer is a common disease and can affect anyone of any age.
The majority of cancer cases are sporadic, i.e. the disease is not inherited. By pure chance, many cases of ‘common’ cancers such as breast, colon and lung cancers can appear to run in a family. Your personal risk depends on factors such as your age, family history of cancer and your tendency to inherit cancer genes. These are beyond your control. Other risk factors that are within our control are not genetic. These include our lifestyles, diets, smoking and environmental exposures. We must work to reduce or prevent them.
Although great advances have been made in the treatment of cancer, their impact on survival rates has been incremental rather than dramatic. Many cancer patients are also diagnosed relatively late, at which stage their treatment options are often severely limited. Prevention and early detection of cancer are therefore key strategies in our cancer control efforts. You must be responsible for your own health – only you hold the key to your well-being.
Extracted from the Singapore Cancer Registry, Interim Report
(Trends in Cancer Incidence in Singapore 2007-2011)
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