OREANDA-NEWS. June 4, 2012. BNP Paribas and The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) today launch the first NCCS Surgical Oncology Conference in Singapore to be held at NCCS from 16 to 18 May 2012.

This inaugural conference is part of NCCS' drive to not only become a leading global cancer centre but also a regional centre for the training of medical and surgical oncology. The first step in this direction came in 2009 when NCCS, with the support of BNP Paribas and the BNP Paribas Foundation, offered BNP Paribas fellowships to doctors from Vietnam to receive post-graduate training in the various fields of oncology at NCCS. Four doctors from Vietnam have undertaken this training since 2009, spending between three to six months in Singapore, gaining exposure to the different disciplines and medical practices in cancer care and treatment.

Encouraged by the success of the fellowship programme, BNP Paribas and NCCS decided to organise this conference so that NCCS could share their know-how with more doctors in the region.

Some 100 surgical oncologists, experts and allied health professionals from cancer institutions and hospitals in Singapore and the region will come together at this landmark event to share their knowledge and expertise, giving the standard of surgical oncology in South East Asia a timely boost.

The conference is also an opportunity for presenting doctors to earn a spot in the BNP Paribas-NCCS Fellowship Programme. Based on their project presentation during the conference, three candidates will be selected for the programme, which will last between three and twelve months.

The conference also focuses on the evolving role of surgery in the rapidly changing modalities of treatment, particularly for cancers relevant to the region, which include: head and neck cancer, sarcoma and gastrointestinal cancer, and breast cancer.

South East Asia, like many parts of the world, has experienced a rapid increase in cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there were close to 1,596,670 cancer cases in 2011. Consequently, there is an increased demand for oncologists in the region. The American Society of Clinical Oncology has estimated that while demand for oncology services will increase by 48%, current supply will only grow by 14%. This translates into a shortage of close to 3,800 oncologists which calls for a greater need for education and clinical training programmes.

To help fuel this need, NCCS surgeons and radiation oncologists, who are trained in Singapore as well as leading medical institutions in Europe, have come forward to give the lectures. This is an extension to their teaching role, of which close to 70 of them hold with tertiary institutions in Singapore.

“We hope with the knowledge sharing our regional colleagues will be able to gain another perspective of the advances in medicine so that when they return to their respective community they can in turn train their colleagues and ultimately the communities will benefit,” said Prof Soo Khee Chee, Director of NCCS who is himself a clinician scientist and an experienced surgical oncologist. “We are fortunate to have the support of a group like BNP Paribas, who share in our belief, to collaborate with us to benefit the wider community in Asia.”

BNP Paribas Regional Head for South East Asia, Mr Jean-Pierre Bernard in explaining why the Bank takes an interest in training doctors, said: “As a community partner, we want to contribute not just economically but socially to Singapore and the region. Experience exchange and training events like this can reach a wider pool of doctors in the region, giving them a rare opportunity to learn from renowned experts in their field. It allows cross-border transmission of knowledge and facilitates the two-way exchange of best practices.”

“In the long-term, we believe that medical outreach initiatives like the BNP Paribas-NCCS Fellowship Programme, will help countries in need to reach higher levels of medical training and research to benefit many communities,” said Mr Jean-Pierre Bernard.

The chairman of the conference organising committee Dr Tan Hiang Khoon said the good response from the regional participants is encouraging and he hopes that this conference can be organised on a regular basis for a wider region. “The idea of the conference stems from our desire to alleviate the sufferings of those who suffer from cancer. We feel that the best way to do this is to train as many doctors as possible so that they can go back and treat their local community. It is even better if they can train their colleagues because the multiplier effect on the community will be even greater.”