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.
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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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