In Other Words
October / November 2008
TAKING CANCER CARE TO THE NEXT LEVEL...
The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) is known not just for its expertise in cancer treatment but as one of the key centres in cutting-edge research. Behind this success is its founding director Prof Soo Khee Chee, whose passion for research has put NCCS on the world stage.
e it 0730 hours or 1930 hours, whichever time of the day you pick, it is not uncommon to see the lights at his office on the fourth level of Goh Song Chiang Building. Not an unearthly hour, yet many of us would still be in our pyjamas. But not for Prof Soo Khee Chee. Tranquility for him is an opportunity to get his paper work done. In more than one way, Prof Soo, or just Prof, as he is affectionately known to his colleagues, wears many hats but is a man of few words. As NCCS Director, he is tasked with looking into policy matters and research projects. On his plate is the constant need to raise funds to support these research projects. He attends to patients at his clinic, performs surgery, and also shares his experience and expertise with his specialists, as well as teach the younger doctors. Not only that, he is the Vice Dean, Clinical and Faculty Affairs, of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, and his latest additional role is his appointment as Assistant CEO of SingHealth Group overseeing research and education.
Prof Soo is one of the pioneers who saw the birth of NCCS, and today runs it with clockwork efficiency, attending to the majority of public patients. He is the face of NCCS in the global fraternity and is one of the founders of the Asian National Cancer Centres Network. A firm believer in research, he is constantly strategising and encouraging his team of investigators and clinician scientists. His prime worry is finding the funds to keep their projects going. For the Penang-born professor, his efforts have not been in vain. Today, NCCS is an example of what a premier cancer centre should be. Teams of specialists from various medical disciplines work together, supported by a talented pool of clinician scientists, focusing on how the patients can benefit from their discoveries. On hand are also the latest medical equipment, for example in radiation technology, so that they can also leverage on advances in IT to complement their efforts. NCCS, as
part of its comprehensive service, also offers patients psycho-social counselling and carries out a whole menu of support programmes to help patients journey through their illness. Doctors at NCCS also carry out clinical trials as they have a wide patient base which is required for any trial to be effective. This also means that the doctors get to see the different types of cancer and hence are better exposed and experienced in responding to the patients’ needs. When asked about how things have turned out so far, a modest Prof Soo said: “I am pleasantly surprised that it has worked out better than we thought.” There were several issues that were important for NCCS at the time of its inception. One was to be able to create various multi-disciplinary segments so that sub-specialist care can be given to the patients in an efficient and timely manner. “This has turned out well because we are now able to offer a comprehensive range of specialist care in each of the major cancer groups,” he added.
A razorSHARK design. Salubris is a National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) bi-monthly newsletter publication.