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  • Mount Elizabeth
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Cancer (Oncology)

  • Why Mount Elizabeth Hospitals

    Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Orchard Road, Singapore

    Oncology is the field of medical that deals with cancer treatment, from chemotherapy to surgery.

    In Singapore, cancer rates have continued to rise. Between 2010 and 2014, colorectal, lung and prostate cancers were the 3 most common cancers in men, while breast, colorectal and lung cancers were the top 3 most common cancers in women.

    Many factors can contribute to cancer, and it can affect many different organs. While a diagnosis of cancer sounds frightening, modern advancements in cancer screening enable earlier detection of cancer, when treatment is more likely to be successful.

    Significant improvements in cancer treatment also offer more positive outcomes and survival rates for many patients.

    If you have a family history of cancer or think you may be at risk for cancer, find out more about early screening or speak to a doctor about your concerns.

    Make an Appointment Find a Specialist

  • What is cancer?


    Cancer refers to a group of diseases characterised by the growth of abnormal cells. Left untreated, it can continue to grow and spread to different parts of the body. Different types of cancer may spread slowly or quickly (aggressively) and its symptoms vary according to the location of the tumour or the organ that is affected. Advanced cancer or large tumours may also lead to other complications.

    Cancer may be caused by a combination of factors. Non-modifiable factors include age and genetic mutations or family history, while modifiable factors are varied, from age and diet to smoking and exposure to carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).

    There is no proven way to prevent cancer, but you can reduce your risk by avoiding or stopping smoking, getting regular exercise, and eating a balanced and healthy diet. Some types of cancer may be prevented through vaccination.

    Cancers in Singapore

    Top 10 Cancers in Singapore (2010 – 2014)

    No. Male Female
    1 Colorectal Breast
    2 Lung Colorectal
    3 Prostate Lung
    4 Liver Corpus uteri
    5 Lymphoid neoplasms Ovary
    6 Skin, including melanoma Lymphoid neoplasms
    7 Stomach Skin, including melanoma
    8 Nasopharynx Thyroid
    9 Kidney and other urinary* Stomach
    10 Myeloid neoplasms Cervix uteri

    *Other urinary refers to renal pelvis, ureter, urethra etc.

    Top 10 Cancer Deaths in Singapore (2010 – 2014)

    Ranking Male Female
    1 Lung Breast
    2 Colorectal Lung
    3 Liver Colorectal
    4 Stomach Liver
    5 Pancreas Stomach
    6 Prostate Pancreas
    7 Nasopharynx Ovary
    8 Lymphoma Cervix uteri
    9 Kidney and other urinary* Lymphoma
    10 Leukaemia Leukaemia


    *Other urinary refers to renal pelvis, ureter, urethra etc.

    Ref: Singapore Cancer Registry Interim Annual Report, Trends in Cancer Incidence in Singapore 2010-2014

    Can Cancer be Prevented?


    Cancer is not contagious like flu or a common cold. You cannot get cancer from someone who has it. Since it is a result of cell mutation, can cancer be prevented? It is recommended that by leading a healthy lifestyle and avoiding certain risk factors, you can lower your risk of developing cancer.


    • Do not smoke — some studies have linked tobacco smoking with cancer
    • Avoid consuming processed or preserved foods regularly. These include ham, bacon, luncheon meat and salted fish or pickled vegetables
    • Stay active and exercise regularly
    • Avoid high-heat cooking methods such as barbequing and roasting, as carcinogens may form in your food at very high temperatures.
    • Avoid excessive exposure to the sun as ultraviolet rays have been linked to greater risk for skin cancer.
    • Wear protective equipment and comply with safety regulations if you work near cancer-causing substances, such as industrial chemicals.
  • Types of cancer we treat

    Cancer conditions we treat

    Bladder Cancer

    Bladder cancer is the 7th most common cancer in Singapore. It is associated with a diet high in saturated fat, and it is 3 times more likely in those who smoke. Blood in the urine (called haematuria) is often the first sign of bladder cancer and it is important to have it checked right away. Early detection can offer the best chance for successful treatment.

    Blood Cancer (leukemia)

    Leukemia 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 on the other hand, develops slowly and may take months or even several years before symptoms appear.

    Blood Cancer (lymphoma)

    Lymphoma refers to cancers that start in the lymph system (the tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infections). There are 2 principal kinds of lymphoma – Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin 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.

    Breast Cancer

    Breast cancer is the number 1 most common cancer that afflict women in Singapore. All women are at risk of breast cancer, and your risk increases if you are 50 years of age or older, and/or your mother, sister or daughter has had breast cancer. The best way to protect yourself from breast cancer is to do a monthly breast self-examination or go for regular mammograms.

    Cervical Cancer

    Cervical cancer is the 10th most common female cancer in Singapore. About 190 cases are diagnosed every year. Early cervical cancer may present with no symptoms. The best protection against cervical cancer is to go for regular cervical cancer screening.

    Colorectal Cancer

    Colorectal cancer is the top cancer affecting men and the 2nd most common cancer affecting women in Singapore. Screening tests such as the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) and screening colonoscopy can help prevent it. Screening for colorectal cancer should begin at age 50 years.

    Kidney Cancer

    Kidney cancer, also known as renal 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.

    Larynx (throat) Cancer

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

    Liver Cancer

    Liver cancer begins in the cells of your liver, a football-sized organ that sits in the upper right portion of your abdomen, beneath your diaphragm and above your stomach. In Singapore, 2,264 cases of liver cancer were reported between 2010 and 2014. Liver cancer is the 4th most common cancer in both men, and the third most likely to kill. It is also the 4th most common cause of cancer death in women.

    Lung Cancer

    Lung cancer is the top cause of cancer death for men and the 2nd most common cause of cancer death for women in Singapore. People who are above 40 years old, are a tobacco smoker, or have family members that have lung cancer have the highest risk of getting lung cancer.

    Nasopharynx Cancer

    Nasopharynx cancer is more common in men. In Singapore, nasopharynx 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.

    Ovarian Cancer

    Ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer affecting women in Singapore. It 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.

    Pancreatic Cancer

    In Singapore, pancreatic cancer is the 6th and 7th most common cause of cancer death among men and women, respectively. Between 2003 and 2007, approximately 1,000 cases were diagnosed.

    Prostate Cancer

    Prostate cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in Singapore, mainly affecting older men above 65 years of age. Early detection through prostate cancer screening can help reduce mortality.

    Stomach (gastric) Cancer

    Stomach or gastric cancer 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.

    Thyroid Cancer

    Thyroid cancer is more common in women. In Singapore, it is the 9th most common cancer diagnosed in women, accounting for 3.9% of diagnosed cases between 2013 and 2017.

  • Cancer treatments we offer

    Radiation therapy machine for cancer treatment

    There are 3 main ways in which cancer is treated. Depending on how far the cancer has spread, a combination of one or more treatments may be used.


    Surgery is an invasive procedure to remove a tumour. This is usually effective if the cancer or tumour is localised (confined to a specific area). There are different types of surgery, such as laparoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure using small incisions, as well as conventional open surgery. Some surgeries may also be performed using robotics for more precision.


    Radiotherapy uses radiation to kill cancer cells in a small, targeted area. It may be prescribed to shrink a tumour, making it easier to remove surgically, or it may be recommended post-surgery to destroy any cancer cells that were not successfully removed and improve the chances that the cancer will not return.


    Chemotherapy uses strong drugs to destroy or restrict the growth of cancer cells. It is often recommended post-surgery to complement radiotherapy and prevent the further spread of cancer cells. It is associated with strong side effects that include loss of appetite, nausea, ulcers, fatigue, hair loss and diarrhoea.

    Other types of cancer treatment include:

    Targeted therapy

    Targeted therapy blocks specific genes and proteins to disrupt the cancer cells’ ability to grow and spread.


    Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. There are different types of immunotherapies, which include immune checkpoint inhibitors, T-cell transfer therapy, monoclonal antibodies and immune system modulators.

  • Recovery

    Female cancer survivor stretching before exercise

    Learning to Live with Cancer

    Being diagnosed with cancer can be very frightening. There is fear that the cancer treatment may not be successful, that the cancer will return, that it will be painful, and that you may not survive. All of these feelings are normal and understandable.

    Having a positive attitude towards your diagnosis and treatment will assist in your recovery process. Some people find that prayer or meditation helps. Others enjoy the company of people with whom they can share their feelings and explore the meaning of their experience with the illness. Many would agree that what matters most is love, laughter and taking pleasure in simple things in life.

    Mount Elizabeth provides rehabilitation services to aid you in your recovery, and Parkway Cancer Centre has a support team – CanHOPE, that provides patients with support and personalised care, working closely with medical and allied health professionals, to help patients and caregivers make more informed decisions in their treatment.

    Tending to the your psychosocial health is just as important as treating you physically. Through CanHOPE, we strive to inspire hope in you and your loved ones by helping you better cope with cancer. Its core activities include cancer counselling, nutritional advice, rehabilitation, education, care coordination and support group activities.

  • It’s Possible at Mount Elizabeth Hospitals

    Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Orchard Road, Singapore

    Mount Elizabeth Hospitals is committed to providing comprehensive, long-term care for our patients. You can find more information on cancer and cancer treatment from the team of cancer specialists and support staff at Parkway Cancer Centre.

    Parkway Cancer Centre provides a comprehensive suite of cancer treatments delivered by a skilled, multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, counsellors and paramedical professionals. They are aided by the latest technologies and innovative therapies to achieve optimal clinical outcomes for patients.

Make an Enquiry or Appointment Our Specialists