What is cancer & oncology?

Cancer is a disease that occurs when cells in the body grow in an abnormal, uncontrolled way. There may be a range of treatment options depending on your type of cancer. Icon Cancer Centre provides care at every step of the way.

Cancer is a disease that occurs when cells in the body grow in an abnormal, uncontrolled way. There are over 100 different types of cancer. Icon Cancer Centre treats a wide breadth of adult cancers and blood disorders, providing care every step of the way.

There are many different ways that doctors treat cancer. The type of cancer treatment you receive will depend on the kind of cancer you have, if it has spread, your current fitness and general health, as well as your treatment preferences. Your doctor will personalise your treatment plan specific to your needs.

Understanding cancer

The human body is made up of billions of cells, which in a healthy body are usually turning over slowly, in an organised way. The overgrowth of cells can cause a lump or a mass, which is called a tumour. Tumours can be benign or malignant.

Benign tumours usually grow slowly under control, and do not spread to other parts of the body. Benign tumours only become a problem if they grow very large, taking up space and affecting the way the body works. Malignant tumours are made up of cancer cells. Cancer cells grow in an abnormal and uncontrolled way. They are usually faster growing, can destroy tissue and have the ability to spread to other parts of the body.

Cancer may also affect blood cells, causing blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma. These blood cancers also cause reduced normal blood cell production due to the uncontrolled growth of the abnormal (malignant) cells in the bone marrow.

Over time, the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells usually becomes too much for the body to cope with, or will spread to a part of the body that is essential for life.

According to a report published in 2019 by Hong Kong Hospital Authority and the Government Food and Health Bureau there were over 30,000 new cases of cancer in 2017 in Hong Kong alone, with the projected annual number of cancer cases expected to increase by over 40,000 cases by 2030. With the continual increase in cancer cases it is increasingly important to understand cancer including screening and treatment options which will further improve survival rates.

What is oncology?

Oncology is the branch of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and research of cancer. This includes medical oncology, radiation oncology, haematology and surgical oncology.

What is an oncologist?

An oncologist is a doctor that specialises in cancer. Oncologists support patients from diagnosis through to treatment and beyond as part of a multidisciplinary team. Oncologists also conduct research into cancer to improve our understanding of the disease and its treatment. Our Clinical Oncologists treat a wide-range of cancer types and work across all aspects of treatment including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy and radiation therapy. For more information on our doctors, click here.

Cancer treatments

Cancer may be treated by surgery, radiation therapy, or drug therapy. Cancer drug therapy includes chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. These modalities may be administered either on their own, or in various combinations. For example, chemotherapy is frequently combined with targeted therapy.

For further information on cancer treatments offered at Icon, click here.

Cancer staging

Cancer staging is the process of documenting the location of your cancer, if it has spread to other parts of the body, and which parts of the body it has spread to.

Solid cancers, for example breastlung and bowel cancer, are often staged using the TNM system and this information is then used to determine a stage between I and IV. Blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma are staged differently.

As each cancer uses different staging methods, a particular stage for one type of cancer is not equal to the same stage in another type of cancer. For example, Stage III lung cancer has a different meaning to Stage III colon cancer.

Staging is done when you are first diagnosed (before any treatment is given), after completion of treatment and at relapse or disease progression.

Your doctor uses information gained from staging investigations to help plan the most appropriate treatment for you.

For more information on cancer staging, click here.

Oncology at Icon Cancer Centre

Icon’s team of experienced clinical oncologists understand how to support you and your family with compassion, knowledge and hope. Our clinical oncologists are dedicated to cancer treatment through different drug treatments as well as radiation therapy.

Resources to help you navigate cancer diagnosis and treatment

If you, a friend or family member have been diagnosed with cancer, it can be very overwhelming to find the information you need or remember all the details. We encourage you to look through the resources on our website, which can help you take the next step during this difficult time and gain a better understanding of cancer. Click here to access Icon’s Cancer Information Library.

Support Services

A list of credible support agencies to help you through all stages of your cancer journey.
Learn More

Families and Carers

Helpful information on finding the right support when caring for a loved one with cancer.
Learn More

Cancer Information Library

Resources to help you learn more about cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Learn More