Rare cancer occurs in fewer than 15 out of 100,000 people every year.
Some of the characteristics of the rarest cancer are:
Rare cancer chart
The rarest types of cancer are presented in the table below.
|Types of rare cancer||Number of people affected every year||The area of the body affected||Symptoms||Is it treatable?||Survival rate|
|Hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma of minor salivary gland tumor||51 cases||
||Treatable with surgery||High survival rate|
|Heart cancer||Reported one to two patients per year||Heart||
||Yes||The 5-year survival rate is 17 percent|
|Ewing’s sarcoma||3 per 1 million people||
||Yes||The 5-year survival rate for tumors that have not spread is about 70 percent and 30 percent for tumors that have spread to other locations|
|Thymic carcinoma||400 cases per year||Thymus gland||
||Yes||The 5-year survival rate is between 30 and 50 percent|
|Wilms’ tumor||1 in 10,000 children each year (about 500 to 650 in the United States)||Kidneys||
||Yes||High: The 5-year survival rate is about 90 percent|
|Merkel cell carcinoma||About 2000 cases in the United States each year||Skin cancer typically found on the face, head, or neck||
||Yes||The 10-year survival rate of about 57 percent (about 71 percent if caught early)|
|Glioblastoma (a type of brain tumor)||0.59 to 5 cases per 100,000 people||Found in the brain||
||Yes||Low: People live less than a year after diagnosis|
|Hepatoblastoma||50 to 75 new cases||Liver||
||Yes||The five-year survival rate in children is 81.5 percent|
|Male breast cancer||About 2550 cases each year in the United States||Male breast tissue||
||Yes||The five-year survival rate is 84 percent|
|Fibrosarcoma||5 per 1 million||A type of soft tissue cancer that begins in fibrous tissue, which holds bones, muscles, and other organs in place||
||Yes||The five-year survival rate is 40 to 60 percent|
Why is rare cancer challenging?
Rare cancer can be challenging for patients, doctors, and scientists due to the limited information available.
- The time taken to identify any symptoms and the time taken by the doctor to identify the type of cancer can be time-consuming.
- Because there is limited information available on the rarest cancer, it would be difficult to find doctors who are aware of cancer and its treatment.
- They might experience a dilemma if the doctors do not agree on how to treat cancer.
- There might be a need to travel away from home to a distant place to get appropriate treatment for cancer.
- It would be difficult for them to explain to their patients the outcome of the disease and treatment modalities due to the limited information available.
- They may have a lack of experience or training to treat this type of cancer.
- Lack of availability of experts in rare cancer to whom they can ask their concerns or refer the patient.
- Due to lack of information, they may not be sure about drugs that could help treat this type of cancer.
- Lack of animal or cell models of rare cancer to test their ideas.
- Insufficient tumor samples from rare cancer patients are available to move further in the research.
- Finding enough patients with rare cancers is difficult. They are extremely important to execute the ideas about the drugs that could probably treat rare cancer.
American Cancer Society. Rare Cancers, Cancer Subtypes, and Pre-Cancers. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/rare-cancers.html#F-L
National Cancer Institute. Rare cancer. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/rare-cancer
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