How to Say Cancer in Russian: Formal and Informal Ways, Tips, and Examples

Cancer, a medical condition involving the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, is a topic that’s important to many individuals around the globe. If you find yourself needing to express or discuss this sensitive subject in Russian, it’s essential to know the appropriate terms and expressions. In this guide, we will explore the formal and informal ways of saying “cancer” in Russian, along with some useful tips and examples to help you communicate effectively with others.

Formal Ways to Say “Cancer” in Russian

When it comes to discussing cancer formally in Russian, you can use the term “рак” (rak). This is the most common and widely accepted word for cancer in medical and professional contexts. It specifically refers to the disease and not the zodiac sign.


Мой диагноз – рак легких. (Moy diagnóz – rak legkih.)

My diagnosis is lung cancer.

While “рак” (rak) is the formal term, it’s important to note that it can also be used in everyday conversations. However, when discussing such a delicate matter, it’s often recommended to use more delicate or euphemistic expressions.

Informal Ways to Say “Cancer” in Russian

In informal situations or conversations with friends and family, you may encounter alternative terms or euphemisms for “cancer” in Russian. These informal expressions are commonly used to show empathy or avoid direct and potentially uncomfortable conversations.

1. “Онкологическое заболевание” (onkologicheskoe zabolevaniye) – Oncological Disease

This phrase is often used as a more formal-sounding alternative to “рак” (rak). It emphasizes the medical nature of the condition while being slightly more gentle.

2. “Серьезное заболевание” (seryoznoye zabolevaniye) – Serious Disease

This expression is a softer and more general way to refer to cancer. It doesn’t explicitly mention cancer but still conveys the seriousness of the condition.


У него серьезное заболевание. (U nego seryoznoye zabolevaniye.)

He has a serious disease.

Regional Variations

In Russian, regional variations for the term “cancer” are not common. However, it’s worth noting that different regions may have specific dialects or colloquial expressions. These variations are typically limited to informal contexts and may not be widely understood outside of their respective regions.

Tips for Discussing Cancer in Russian

When discussing cancer in Russian, it’s important to approach the topic with sensitivity and respect. Here are some tips to help you navigate conversations about this sensitive subject:

  • Choose the appropriate level of formality based on the context and the relationship with the person you are speaking to.
  • Consider using euphemisms or more general expressions to communicate the topic without being overly direct.
  • Show empathy and offer support when discussing someone’s diagnosis or experiences with cancer.
  • Be mindful of cultural differences and norms when discussing medical conditions.
  • If unsure about the appropriate terms to use, consult with a native speaker or a trusted Russian language resource.


Understanding how to discuss cancer in Russian is essential for effective communication in both formal and informal settings. The formal term “рак” (rak) is widely accepted and commonly used, while informal expressions like “онкологическое заболевание” (onkologicheskoe zabolevaniye) and “серьезное заболевание” (seryoznoye zabolevaniye) offer alternative ways to address the topic.

Remember to approach conversations about cancer with empathy, sensitivity, and respect. Adapting your language to the specific context and the relationship with the person you are speaking with can greatly contribute to effective communication and support.

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