What is cancer & 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.

Icon Cancer Centre treats the full breadth of adult cancers and blood disorders, providing care every step of the way.

What is 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 also affect blood cells, causing blood cancers such as leukaemialymphoma or myeloma. These blood cancers also 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 oncology, radiation oncology, haematology and surgical oncology.

What is an oncologist?

An oncologist is a doctor that specialises in treating cancer. Oncologists support patients from diagnosis, through treatment and into survivorship as part of a multidisciplinary team. While some oncologists specialise in certain types of cancer (e.g. breast cancer), 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:


doctors who specialise in treating cancers affecting the blood/bone marrow (e.g. leukaemia) and lymphatic system (i.e. lymphoma), and often perform bone marrow transplants

Medical oncologists

doctors who specialise in diagnosing and treating solid tumours (e.g. cancerous tumours in the lung, breast or bowel) with the use of chemotherapy drugs, immunotherapy and hormone therapies

Radiation oncologists

doctors who specialise in treating cancer using radiation therapy

Surgical oncologists

doctors who specialise in removing cancerous tissue through surgery

Our oncologists

Cancer treatments

Treatments for cancer include:

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

Oncology at Icon Cancer Centre

As Australia’s largest dedicated cancer care provider, Icon’s team of highly-experienced oncologists 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 Australia’s largest private clinical trials program in oncology research. Clinical trials specific to your cancer type can be found here.

Resources to help you and your loved ones navigate a cancer diagnosis

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the details, or time consuming and stressful to find the additional information you’re looking for.

Support Services

A list of credible support agencies to help you through all stages of your cancer journey.
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Families and Carers

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

Our patients share their perspective and advice on receiving and coping with a cancer diagnosis.
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