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Assistant Professor Tan Ker Kan

Photo of Assistant Professor Tan Ker Kan
MBBS, MMed (Surgery), FRCS (Edin), PhD (Public Health)
Senior Consultant, Division of Colorectal Surgery, Department of Surgery, University Surgical Cluster, National University Hospital
Senior Consultant, Division of Surgical Oncology, National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
Associate Chairman, Medical Board (Research), National University Hospital
Assistant Dean (Research), Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
Senior Consultant, Colorectal Cancer Tumour Group, NCIS
Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
Cancer, Surgery
Sub Specialty:
Colorectal Surgery, Surgical Oncology (Colorectal Surgery)
Medical and Surgical Conditions:
Anal Fissures, Anorectal Abscesses and Fistulas, Colorectal Cancer, Constipation, Haemorrhoids or Piles, Incontinence, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Special Interest:
Colorectal cancer
Diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy
Anorectal disease
Laparoscopic surgery
Recurrent and advanced pelvic malignancy
Health services research
Colorectal cancer screening
National University Hospital
National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
National University Health System

Dr Tan graduated from the medical school at the National University of Singapore and then completed his advanced training in General Surgery. He subsequently obtained his Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (General Surgery) in Hong Kong and was accorded Specialist accreditation in General Surgery by Ministry of Health, Singapore in the same year.

He completed the fellowship training programme in Colorectal Surgery at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia. During his time there, he received formal training in advanced laparoscopic colorectal surgery, and complex pelvic operations such as exenterations for recurrent and advanced pelvic malignancy. To date, he has performed over 1000 abdominal operations with a firm interest in minimally invasive surgery for colorectal cancer. 

Apart from his clinical practice, Dr Tan is an avid researcher and has published over 100 publications and book chapters. He is also an active reviewer for renowned journals including the Lancet, British Journal of Surgery and Diseases of Colon & Rectum. Locally, his work has been cited on several occasions in The Straits Times and Chinese newspapers. He has also been interviewed by the local media including the radio and television. Outside Singapore, Dr Tan is also frequently invited to share his clinical expertise and has delivered numerous presentations at international meetings. 

On top of his research work, Dr Tan has recently completed his PhD in the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health in the National University of Singapore where he looked at screening amongst the family members of colorectal cancer patients. In recognition for his ongoing effort in promoting colorectal screening in Singapore, he was awarded the Health Services Research Grant and also the Clinician Scientist Award by the National Medical Research Council to further his work.

Dr Tan is also active in his role as an Associate Professor in the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine where he was the convener for the final Professional Main and Supplementary examinations for the school of medicine (Surgery Track). Apart from that, he has been active in the education of both medical students and surgical trainees. Together with his surgical trainees, they have won numerous accolades at local and regional conferences for their research work. 

He is currently the Associate Chairman of the NUH Medical Board, taking care of research matters for NUH and NUHS and also the Assistant Dean for Research in the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in NUS. 

Awards and Honours

  1. 2019 NMRC Clinician Scientist Award
  2. 2018 NMRC Clinician Scientist/Clinician Investigator Salary Support Programme (CS/CISSP) Award
  3. 2017 NMRC Health Services Research Grant
  4. 2017 Ministry of Education Tier 1 Academic Research Fund
  5. 2015 National Health Innovation Centre (NHIC) Innovation to Develop (I2D) Grant
  6. 2015 Ministry of Education Tier 1 Academic Research Fund
  7. 2014 NCIS Centre Grant Seed Funding Programme

Professional Memberships

Research and Publications

  1. Tan KK, Koh GC. Could spouses of Colorectal Cancer patients possess higher risk of developing Colorectal cancer? Int J Colorectal Dis. 2018 Mar;33(3):353.
  2. Tan KK, Lim TZ, Chew E, Chow WM, Luo N, Wong ML, Koh GC. Screening in spouses of colorectal cancer patients: a missed opportunity. Int J Colorectal Dis. 2018 Apr;33(4):419-422.
  3. McGovern N, Shin A, Low G, …, Tan KK, et al, Ginhoux F. Human fetal dendritic cells promote pre-natal T cell immune-suppression through arginase-2. Nature. 2017; 546(7660): 662-666.
  4. Tan KK, Lim TZ, Chan DK, Chew E, Chow WM, Luo N, Wong ML, Koh GC. Getting the first degree relatives to screen for colorectal cancer is harder than it seems - Patients' and their first degree relatives' perspectives. Int J Colorectal Dis. 2017. Jul; 32(7): 1065-1068.
  5. Lim TZ, Chan DK, Tan KK. Endoscopic stenting does not worsen long term outcomes amongst patients presenting with obstruction from colorectal cancers. Ann Surg Oncol. 2017; 24(6): 1618-1625.
  6. Chan DKH, Wong RKM, Yeoh KG, Tan KK. Accredited residents perform colonoscopy to the same high standards as consultants. Surg Endosc. 2018 Mar; 32(3):1377-1381.
  7. Guilliams M, Dutertre CA, Scott CL, …, Tan KK, et al, Ginhoux F. Unsupervised High-Dimensional Analysis Aligns Dendritic Cells across Tissues and Species. Immunity. 2016; 45(3): 669-84.
  8. Fukawa T, Yan-Jiang BC, Min-Wen JC, …, Tan KK, et al, Shyh-Chang N. Excessive fatty acid oxidation induces muscle atrophy in cancer cachexia. Nat Med. 2016; 22(6): 666-71.
  9. Tan KK, Alsuwaigh R, Tan AM, Tan IJ, Liu X, Koh DC, Tsang CB. 'To LIFT or to Flap? Which surgery to perform following seton insertion for high anal fistula?' Dis Colon Rectum. 2012; 55(12): 1273-7.
  10. Tan KK, Koh FH, Tan YY, Liu JZ, Sim R. Long-term outcome following surgery for colorectal cancers in octogenarians: a single institution's experience of 204 patients. J Gastrointest Surg. 2012; 16(5): 1029-36.
  11. Tan KK, Liu JZ, Shen SF, Sim R. Emergency surgery in colonic diverticulitis in an Asian population. Int J of Colorectal Dis. 2011; 26(8): 1045-50.
  12. Tan KK, Hong CC, Zhang J, Liu JZ, Sim R. Surgery for perforated colorectal malignancy in an Asian population: An institution's experience over 5 years. Int J of Colorectal Dis. 2010; 25(8): 989-95.
  13. Tan KK, Lopes Jr GD, Sim R. How Uncommon are Isolated Lung Metastases in Colorectal Cancer? A Review from Database of 754 Patients Over 4 Years. J Gastrointest Surg. 2009; 13(4): 642-8.
  14. Tan KK, Tan IJ, Lim FS, Koh DC, Tsang CB. The anatomy of failures following the ligation of intersphincteric tract (LIFT) technique for anal fistula: A review of 93 patients over 4 years. Dis Colon Rectum 2011; 54(11): 1368-72.
  15. Tan KK, Koh WP, Chao AK. Risk factors and presentation of deep venous thrombosis among Asian patients: a hospital-based case-control study in Singapore. Ann Vasc Surg. 2007; 21(4):490-5.