General FAQs About Cancer

How many types of cancers are there?

There are more than 100 types of cancers that can affect any part of the body.

What is the worldwide cancer death rate?

Cancer is still the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths in 2012. The number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next two decades.


In Singapore, cancer remains the leading cause of death at 30.5% as of 2013.

What are the most common types of cancers?

The 5 most common types of cancer to affect men worldwide consist of (in order of frequency):


  1. Lung Cancer
  2. Stomach Cancer
  3. Liver Cancer
  4. Colorectal Cancer 
  5. Oesophageal Cancer
The 5 most common types of cancer to affect women worldwide consist of (in order of frequency):
  1. Breast Cancer
  2. Lung Cancer
  3. Stomach Cancer
  4. Colorectal Cancer
  5. Cervical Cancer

In Singapore, the 5 most common types of cancer to affect men between 2009-2013 consist of (in order of frequency):
  1. Lung Cancer
  2. Colorectal Cancer
  3. Liver Cancer
  4. Stomach Cancer
  5. Prostate Cancer
In Singapore, the 5 most common types of cancer to affect women between 2009-2013 consist of (in order of frequency):
  1. Breast Cancer
  2. Lung Cancer
  3. Colorectal Cancer
  4. Liver Cancer
  5. Stomach Cancer

Does smoking cause cancer?

Yes, smoking accounts for 22% of cancer deaths worldwide. As a matter of fact, tobacco (the main ingredient found in cigarettes) use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer worldwide.

What causes cancer?

One fifth of all cancers worldwide are caused by chronic infections. For example, the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer and the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes liver cancer.

Other causes include genetics, tobacco use, diet and physical activity, sun and UV exposure, radiation exposure and other carcinogens.

Can cancer be prevented?

More than 30% of cancer can be prevented, largely by avoiding use of tobacco, leading a healthy lifestyle and moderating alchol intake.


Other ways to prevent cancer include immunisation against the infection of HBV and HPV.

Is cancer contagious?

Cancer is NOT contagious and a healthy person will not be able to contract cancer from someone with cancer. There has been no evidence to suggest that close contact with a cancer patient can result in the spread of cancer.


Cancer cells from one person are generally unable to live in the body of another healthy person as the healthy person's immune system is able to recognise foreign cells and destroy them, including cancerous cells from another person.

Even today, some people tend to stay away from people diagnosed with cancer resulting in the patient feeling ostracised and alone. There is no reason to stay away from people with cancer as the disease is not contagious so don't neglect your loved ones with cancer as they need your support and encouragement the most during this difficult period.

Can cancer be transferred during pregnancy?

Most of the time, cancer rarely affects the foetus directly. Some cancers can spread from the mother to the placenta (the organ connecting the mother to the foetus), however, most cancers cannot affect the foetus directly.


In very rare cases, melanoma (a form of skin cancer) has been found to spread to the placenta and foetus.

Does a lump always mean cancer?

No. A lump can occur in any part of the body and it may or may not be cancerous. A cancer is typically categorised as a malignant tumour and has the potential to spread to other parts of the body and infiltrate the organs.


For peace of mind, it is recommended to perform regular screenings to ensure a clean bill of health or early treatment if necessary. To find out more about cancer screening, click here.

Is cancer hereditary?

While certain cancers have been found to occur within families, this does not mean that the disease has been transmitted from parent to child through genetic material.


Scientists believe that if there is indeed a hereditary component, its effect is minimal.

Is diet linked to cancer?

While there has been no conclusive evidence to suggest a direct link between diet and cancer, it is generally suggested that a high-fat diet will result in some cancers whereas a low-fat, high-fibre diet tends to protect against some cancers.

Can cancer be cured?

Currently, there is no cure for cancer, however, with early diagnosis, proper treatment processes and healthy lifestyle habits, the patient is able to live life normally and fulfilling as like any other healthy person.

What is the best method to treat cancer now?

The best treatment method for cancer depends on several factors particularly the type of cancer, the site of cancer, the spread of the disease and the general health of the patient.


It is best to consult a Doctor to advise on the best treatment method available for the patient's condition.

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