Cancer Types

Part of: Cancer Care

Cancers are sometimes categorised according to the type of cells that form them, such as carcinoma, sarcoma, melanoma, leukaemia, or lymphoma.

More commonly, cancers are named according to the organs or tissues in which they begin, such as liver cancer that forms in the liver, or breast cancer that starts in breast tissues.

Learn about common and different cancer types affecting men and women in Singapore, and cancer treatments available at Mount Elizabeth Hospitals.

Common cancers in Singapore

Here are the most common cancers affecting men and women in Singapore:

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Singapore. More than 2,200 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. With early detection, breast cancer can be effectively treated.

  • Cervical cancer is the 10th most common cancer among women in Singapore. More than 200 cases are diagnosed every year. Early cervical cancer may not show symptoms but can be detected with regular screening.

  • Colorectal cancer is the top cancer affecting men and the second most common cancer affecting women in Singapore. If you are above 50 years old, it is advisable to consider regular screening for colorectal cancer.

  • Lung cancer is the top cause of cancer death for men and the second most common cause of cancer death for women in Singapore. The main cause of lung cancer is tobacco smoke.

* Source: Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2019

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Types of cancers

More than 100 types of cancer have been documented today, and each are classified by researchers according to the organ or cell in which it starts.

These include:

This is associated with people who consume diets high in saturated fat. It is also 3 times more likely to occur in smokers. Blood in the urine is often the first sign of bladder cancer.

This is the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells in the bone marrow, which crowd out healthy cells. It is either acute (comes on suddenly) or chronic (lasts a long time). Extreme fatigue is usually the first symptom that causes patients to seek medical attention.

Chronic leukemia develops slowly and may take months or even years before symptoms appear.

This refers to cancers that start in the lymph system. There are 2 principal kinds of lymphoma – Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common in ages 15 – 30 and above 50 years, while non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common in older age groups.

Also known as renal cancer, kidney cancer accounts for 1 – 2% of all cancers in Singapore. Of these, approximately two-thirds of cases are diagnosed in those over 65 years of age.

This affects the cells lining the larynx or voice box. Larynx cancer is 9 times more common in men than in women and associated with smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol.

In Singapore, 2,753 cases of liver cancer were reported between 2014 and 2018. Liver cancer is the 4th most common cancer in both men, and the third most likely to kill. It is also the 5th most common cause of cancer death in women.

In Singapore, nose cancer is the 9th most common cancer in men, usually affecting adults between 34 and 55 years of age. It is 20 – 30 times more common in those of Chinese descent.

This is the 6th most common cancer affecting women in Singapore. Ovarian cancer is more common in women who started menstruating at an early age, got pregnant at a young age or menopause at a late stage, suffer from endometriosis or have been on hormone replacement therapy for more than 5 years.

In Singapore, pancreatic cancer is the 5th and 4th most common cause of cancer death among men and women, respectively. Between 2014 and 2018, 1,119 cases were diagnosed.

This is the most common cancer in Singapore, mainly affecting older men above 65 years of age. Early detection through prostate cancer screening can help reduce mortality.

This is the 7th most common cancer in men and the 9th most common cancer in women in Singapore. On average, it is responsible for 300 deaths every year. In many cases, stomach cancer is asymptomatic in its early stages, causing many patients to present at a late or advanced stage.

In Singapore, thyroid cancer is the 8th most common cancer diagnosed in women, accounting for 3.9% of diagnosed cases between 2015 and 2019.

There are 2 main types of uterine cancer – endometrial cancer that develops from cells in the endometrium, and sarcoma that develops in the muscle cells.

This cancer involves the abnormal growth of skin cells. Skin cancer is usually caused by ultraviolet rays.

This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.