About Cancer

Cancer Tumours

Cancer tumours can grow, invade nearby parts of the body and also spread to more distant parts through lymphatic or blood stream.

Cancer Tumours

Cancer tumours can grow, invade nearby parts of the body and also spread to more distant parts through lymphatic or blood stream.

What about Tumours?

When a tumour cells successfully stretch out to other parts of the body, they grow, invade and destroy other healthy tissues.
This phenomenon is known as metastasis, and is important because cancer mortality is mainly due to metastatic tumours, with only 10% of cancer deaths caused by the primary tumour.

There are over 200 different known cancers that afflict humans. Common top cancers in Singapore are colorectal cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer.

Causes of Cancer

Both environment and genetics can cause malignant tumours, cancers.


Heredity (genetic) cancers are primarily caused by an inherited genetic defect.
Less than 0.3% of the population carriers of a genetic mutation and these can cause less than 3-10% of all cancer.

Common inherited cancers are breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, and colorectal cancer. So health screenings related to those malignancies are highly advised to those whose any family members or relatives suffers from these cancers.


Common environmental factors that contribute to cancer death include tobacco, alcohol, chemicals (asbestos, arsenic, car exhaust fumes), diet and obesity, infections, radiation (x-rays, sun), stress, lack of physical activity and environmental pollutants.

A class of these substances is called carcinogens. When our bodies are exposed to carcinogens, free radicals are formed. These free radicals then damage cells and affect their ability to function properly.

Signs & Symptoms

Cancer symptoms are changes on the body caused by the presence of cancer. Most common general symptoms are weight loss, tiredness and loss of appetite. There are more than 200 different types of cancer with a wide range of different signs and symptoms, making it difficult to produce a definitive list.

Typical symptoms of cancer include:

Changes in a mole on the skin, or skin changes such as unexplained rash or unusual texture/lump in the body

Any abnormal bleeding, including bleeding from the vagina, or blood in urine or faeces

A change in bowel habits, such as unusual diarrhoea or constipation or having difficulty passing urine

Unexplained fatigue or weight loss and pain or night sweats

Difficulty in swallowing or continuing indigestion

A persistent cough, hoarseness, sore or ulcer

It is advisable that anyone experiencing unusual body symptoms that are not normal should seek medical attention at Novena Cancer Centre.


Our physicians have high level depth and breadth of experience in diagnosing and treating all forms of the disease, from the most common to the very rare.