Most frequent questions and answers

The common cancers in Sri Lanka among women are Breast, Uterine Cervical and Ovarian cancers. Among men Oral, Lung and oesophageal cancers are common.

Risk factors are of two types; non-modifiable and modifiable. Non-modifiable risk factors are risk factors that cannot be changed such as age and heritability etc. Modifiable risk factors are risk factors we can change such as our diet, lifestyle and environment.

Non-modifiable risk factors:

  1. Age: cancer risk increases with age.
  2. Genetics: some families have a higher risk for certain cancers.
  3. Abnormalities/mutations of genes increase the risk of cancer. (e.g. HER2 oncogene increase the risk of breast cancer)

Modifiable risk factors (following habits and exposures increase the risk of cancer):

  1. Alcohol consumption above the safe limit.
  2. Diet: consumption of high fat, low fibre, red meat and processed meats.
  3. Obesity.
  4. Infections: e.g. Helicobacter pylori increase the risk of stomach cancer, human papillomavirus increases the risk of cervical cancer, hepatitis B increases the risk of liver cancer
  5. Radiation and sunlight: exposure to ionizing radiation and UV radiation from sunlight.
  6. Hormones: e.g. treatment with oestrogen (oestrogen containing oral contraceptive pills) can increase the risk of breast cancer.
  7. Tobacco smoking.
  8. Betel chewing.

In addition to the above factors, there are many other risk factors related to cancer.

Read more on risk factors of cancer:



Here are some simple tips to minimize the risk of getting cancer.

  • Do not smoke.
  • Do not consume alcohol above the safe limit.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables and limit the consumption of processed meat.
  • Exercise regularly and maintain healthy body weight.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight without protection.
  • Get vaccinated against viruses such as Human papillomavirus and Hepatitis B.
  • If eligible, get yourself examined at cancer screening programs.
  • Use self-examination methods for early detection of cancers. (e.g. self-examination of breast)
  • Always consult a doctor before taking a hormonal treatment.

Read more on how to prevent cancer:



Cancer can be diagnosed inadvertently or through screening tests. Patients with cancer sometimes present to the doctors with non-specific symptoms and signs, where cancer is diagnosed after several other investigations such as blood tests, scans and biopsies. Also, some patients are diagnosed by screening tests when they participate because of eligibility or suspicion.

Read more about methods of cancer diagnosis:


Following symptoms are not always related to cancer. Those can be symptoms of other benign conditions. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, consult a doctor.

  • Blood in stools or urine or sputum.
  • Altered bowel habits.
  • Difficulty in passing urine.
  • Prolonged cough.
  • Lumps in the body.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Recent unexplained weight loss.
  • Change of voice.
  • Difficulty in swallowing.
  • Nonhealing ulcers.

There are many other symptoms related to cancer.

Read more about symptoms of cancer:



Surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and certain oral drugs are commonly used in cancer treatment. Depending on the type and stage of cancer, a patient will receive a single or combination of treatment methods.

Read more about cancer treatment: