Dr Luke Tan, 45, Ear Nose Throat Specialist, and Head & Neck Surgeon
There’s something very calming about talking to ENT specialist and head and neck surgeon, Dr Luke Tan. Maybe it’s
his gentle but firm voice or the general affable manner of his that shows through, but you can imagine it must all
be very reassuring for the patients who visit his practice to deal with their nasal throat and thyroid problems. 80
per cent of the surgeries that Luke does are thyroid, sinus or throat– related adults cases that form bulk of his
patient load for surgeries, while he operates on a lot of kids mainly for tonsil problems.
But what this good doctor is particularly known for is his skill in thyroid surgery, especially minimal access thyroid procedures. He has spoken at many conferences about his surgical experiences and has demonstrated the surgery in many countries in the region, including Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia. He shares that a lot of young women in Singapore have thyroid problems, and the condition is more prevalent to those who have a family history of the disease. Fortunately not all thyroid lumps (masses or modules) are cancerous, although some can be. Luke also treats cancers of the head and neck and one of the challenges he says is making sure that the “surgery doesn’t have to be repeated again, and to avoid complications of surgery. Especially in the neck area, you want to avoid scars.”
He reveals that his decision to become a doctor was born after witnessing his grandmother suffer cancer of the stomach. He was in Secondary Three then and would help his grandmother change her dressing. In medical school, he knew he was good with his hands and wanted to be a surgeon; he didn’t want to do just general surgery however but wanted to do cancer work. So he went to pursue his training in head and neck cancer surgery, doing oncology-related work and thyroid surgery (it makes up more than half of his practice today).
He’s spent the last 17 years as a surgeon, a career which has not only earned him prestige and recognition, but a position to impart his knowledge in the field by teaching young medical students. Luke has been an associate professor and senior consultant at the National University of Singapore (NUS) since 2001, and was the university hospital’s former chief of the department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and the head of the Department of Otolaryngology at NUS. He was responsible for establishing the Head & Neck Surgery unit to the department of Otolaryngology. Another accolade he can claim: being the past president of the Singapore Otorhinolaryngology Society, for which he initiated the landmark formation of the Singapore Society of Otorhinolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery. He’s now an adjunct associate Professor to the nuhs department of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery, and is also an journal reviewer for several major academic ENT- Head and Neck journals internationally.