NCIS plans to bring cancer treatments closer to patients with more services and satellite clinics

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SINGAPORE - A drug which protects bones from breaking will be administered at satellite clinics in the community instead of just at the National University Cancer Institute (NCIS) in Kent Ridge, making it more convenient for cancer patients who need the treatment.

Jurong Medical Centre (JMC), one of the clinics running the NCIS on the Go programme, has already been offering short infusions of the drug called zoledronic acid since March, after getting approval from the Health Ministry.

NCIS plans to expand the service this year to its two other community clinics - Keat Hong Family Medicine Clinic in Choa Chu Kang and Frontier Family Medicine Clinic in Clementi. It also hopes to launch a satellite clinic in Serangoon in 2024.

Zoledronic acid prevents fractures caused by cancers. It is also given to patients with early breast cancer who are on hormone therapy to protect against osteoporosis.

“This is infused straight into the blood stream so the nurses in charge of the community clinics need to be schooled and patients stable enough to be referred there. Since these clinics are manned by an advanced practice nurse trained in oncology, we also have to be selective when it comes to the patients we see there,” said Professor Lee Soo Chin, who heads NCIS’ Haemotology-Oncology department.

One of her patients, Ms Iffat Ara Nurjahan, is on hormone therapy and needs an infusion every six months to protect her bones from deteriorating. Ms Iffat, 57, was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer four years ago and had undergone a lumpectomy to remove the tumour.

“If I were to travel by train to NCIS, it would take me 50 minutes and I would have to wait at the clinic for at least an hour for my turn. Now it only takes me about 35 minutes by train to JMC and as it is by appointment only, the nurse would be the one waiting for me rather than the other way around,...

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