Cancer is the No. 1 cause of death in Singapore, and its prevalence has been rising steadily over the years. The number of cancer cases in Singapore has increased by about 17 per cent since 2010.
A poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking are some of the factors that raise your risk of developing this deadly disease which accounted for 29.7 per cent of deaths in Singapore in 2015. Lung cancer and breast cancer have the highest mortality rates in males and females, respectively.
According to the National Registry of Diseases Office (NRDO), a total of 64,341 people were diagnosed with cancer in Singapore during 2011-2015. Of these, 31,284 were men and 33,057 were women. About 36 to 37 people are diagnosed with cancer every day.
“Cancer incidence and death from cancer have been rising steadily over the past several decades in Singapore. For example, 50 years ago, less than 15 per cent of deaths in Singapore were due to cancer. Now, however, over 30 per cent of people that die in Singapore today will be as a result of cancer,” says Dr Raymond Ng Chee Hui, Senior Consultant, Division of Medical Oncology, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS).
What causes cancer?
Cancer occurs when there is a change or mutation in the genes within cells. This mutation affects the cell’s capability to control its growth. A cancerous cell grows and divides rapidly and can spread throughout the body.
This mutation is often a random event but it can increase with age and exposure to carcinogens such as those in cigarette smoke and preserved foods, says Dr Ng.
Some cancers are caused by viral and bacterial infections, e.g. hepatitis B virus (liver cancer), human papilloma virus (cervical cancer) and Helicobacter pylori (stomach cancer).
10 most common cancers in men and women in Singapore (2011-2015)
(Source: The National Registry Of Diseases Office)
Diet & lifestyle tips to reduce your risk of cancer
- Eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, brown rice. Avoid white rice, fatty foods, red meat, processed or cured meats, preserved foods such as salted fish and pickled vegetables
- Get regular physical exercise
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Quit smoking