Records in Singapore show an alarming rise in breast cancer cases since the 1970s. “This is by far the fastest rise in a cancer ever recorded outside of Hiroshima, Nagasaki,” announced Associate Professor Mikael Hartman at the lunchtime talk on “How The Fight Against Breast Cancer Can Be Won”. Chaired by Professor CN Lee, Head of Department of Surgery, National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Director of The Heart Institute of the National Healthcare Group, the event was organised by NUS, as part of the NUS Greater Good Series.
“The problem we have when we work with breast cancer is that we can’t tell who’s at risk,” shared Assoc Prof Hartman at the talk attended by women leaders, philanthropists, academics and doctors. Indeed, identifying risk is one of the first steps in finding a solution. But it is not an easy process when many lifetime factors must be considered, ranging from family history, to obesity, to a woman’s age at the first menstrual cycle or menopause.
This Swedish doctor, however, is determined to find an Asian solution, here in Asia. Assoc Prof Hartman has worked in Singapore since 2009, and is currently a Senior Consultant at the NUH Department of Surgery (Breast & Trauma Services), and also Associate Professor at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, NUS. With a team that includes genetics expert Associate Professor Philip Iau, Head and Senior Consultant at the NUH Department of Surgery, he hopes to put together an Asian model, which takes into consideration unique regional factors, and works to identify risk specifically in Asia.
The team, with collaborators around the world, plans to work extensively in this region, to conduct large-scale genotyping and collect more data. Another important aspect of their work includes studying sociological barriers that prevent women from getting tested earlier.
“What we have found when we work with our collaborators in the rest of Asia, is that you can’t expect a Western-style screening programme to work in an Asian country. What we need is cultural contextualisation – packaging the message to the people you are sending your message to,” Assoc Prof Philip Iau explained.
With the primary aim of raising awareness of breast cancer through lectures, surgical demonstrations and forums with collaborating institutions, the two breast surgeons have embarked on “The Long Ride”, a four-month mission on motorbikes across 17 countries and about 23,000 kilometres, from Singapore to Sweden. Follow the team on their journey at www.longridess.com.
The NUS Greater Good Series features talks by leading minds on topics related to philanthropy. These include generosity, giving and service to the community, as well as leadership, personal well-being and mental resilience. The Series aims to raise awareness of philanthropy and its impact on society. The Series was made possible thanks to a generous gift from Newsman Realty Pte Ltd.
For further information on the NUS Greater Good Series, contact Grace Lam at email@example.com