Updated on 2 August 2012
Poor awareness of advanced kidney cancer in Singapore is a cause of concern for doctors
Singapore: There has been an 80 percent increase in kidney cancer cases in Singapore since 2003, and advanced kidney cancer accounts for 30 percent of all kidney cancer cases.
Poor awareness of this aggressive form of cancer is worrying doctors as it has low survival rates and generally fails to respond to chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy. Singapore's ageing population is especially facing this rising risk of advanced kidney cancer. At the global level, the disease incidence is rising at two percent annually.
"Kidney cancer has entered the list of top ten of cancers among males in Singapore, with a prominent rise in the number of cases in the last ten years, mirroring a true worldwide increase. Even more worryingly, approximately 20 percent of patients present in an advanced stage," says Dr Tan Min Han of Singapore Society of Oncology.
Peak incidence rates are between 60 years and 70 years of age, with men facing 1.5 times higher risk than women. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, long-term dialysis and genetic syndromes. Once metastatic disease develops, the prognosis for long term survival is poor, with five-year survival ranging from zero percent to 20 percent. Also, 50 percent of patients undergoing curative surgery are likely to experience relapse at distant sites.
Dr Tay Miah Hiang, from OncoCare Cancer Centre, says, "Although RCC is highly resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and while the condition is not curable, it is treatable for prolongation of life expectancy and reduced complications arising from disease progression."