What is cancer and oncology?

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, however there are many that are more common in children and young adults.

There are many different ways that doctors treat cancer. Icon Cancer Centre treats the full breadth of childhood cancers and blood disorders, providing care for patients and their families every step of the way.

The type of treatment that is delivered will depend on the type of childhood cancer, its size and location and the child’s age, as part of the treatment protocol developed by a multidisciplinary team. At Icon, our Paediatric Haematologist-Oncologist will personalise the treatment plan specific to the child’s needs alongside a number of other experienced healthcare professionals.

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. Cancer is the term we use for a disease that occurs when these cells grow in an abnormal and uncontrolled way.

Cancer may affect blood cells, causing blood cancers such as leukaemia. These blood cancers cause normal blood cell production to be reduced 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.

What is oncology?

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

What is an oncologist?

An oncologist is a doctor that specialises in treating cancer. Oncologists care for patients from diagnosis through to treatment and beyond as a part of a multidisciplinary team. While some oncologists specialise in certain types of cancer (for example, gynaecological oncologists), others treat a wide range of different cancer types. Oncologists also conduct research into cancer to improve our understanding of the disease and its treatment.

Types of oncologists

There are four main types of oncologists:

Surgical oncologists

doctors who specialise in removing cancerous tissue through surgery


doctors who specialise in treating cancers affecting the blood (e.g. leukaemia) or blood forming organs such as the bone marrow

Radiation oncologists

doctors who specialise in treating cancer using radiation therapy

Medical or paediatric oncologists

doctors who specialise in diagnosing and treating cancer (in adults or children) with the use of chemotherapy drugs, immunotherapy and hormone therapies

What is a Paediatric Haematologist-Oncologist?

Paediatric Haematologist-Oncologists treat a wide range of blood conditions and cancers in infants, children, adolescents and young adults. They are trained first in general paediatric medicine and then go on to receive further extensive training in haematology (blood problems such as thalassemia, anaemia, bleeding or clotting) and oncology (such as leukaemia, neuroblastoma, brain tumours, sarcomas etc. and their treatments, e.g. stem cell transplant).

Cancer treatments

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

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

Paediatric oncology at Icon Cancer Centre

Icon’s experienced team, led by Paediatrician and Paediatric Haematologist-Oncologist Dr LeLe Aung, understand how to support you and your loved ones with compassion, knowledge and hope. Our cancer care centres are dedicated specifically to the treatment of cancer including haematology, radiation oncology and medical oncology.

Icon is committed to delivering clinical trials and research programs to our patients and proudly offers Singapore’s only private clinical trials program in oncology research. Clinical trials specific to each cancer type can be found here.

Our Paediatric Haematologist-Oncologist

Dr LeLe Aung

“It is a privilege for me to be a part of the journey of each and every child’s fight against cancer.”

To read Dr Aung’s full biography, click here.

Resources to help you navigate a childhood cancer diagnosis and treatment

If you, a friend or family member have been diagnosed with childhood 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 childhood cancer. Click here to access our article library.

Making an appointment

Make an appointment with our compassionate and friendly team to start your journey with Icon Cancer Centre Singapore.
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Family resources

Resources to help children, adolescents, young adults and their families through diagnosis, treatment and beyond.
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Our treatments

Learn more about cancer treatments for childhood cancer, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
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