Though we hate to admit it, cancer is a common disease that affects millions of men, women, and children around the world. At a glance, about 1,735,350 cancer cases were diagnosed in the United States in 2018. Furthermore, an estimated 609,640 people in the country died due to their malignant (cancerous) disease.
With over 200 different types of cancer known to humankind, it is not difficult to believe that cancer cells can form in almost any part of the body. Scientists and doctors consider many of these cancers “rare,” affecting around 3,000 to as few as two people each year.
Top Five Rarest Cancers in Adults
Below are the rarest cancers in the world, which mostly affect adult men and women. Like more common malignant diseases, these rare cancers have relatively high survival rates when found early.
1. Male Breast Cancer
Everyone knows that in women, breast cancer is tragically common. However, not everyone is aware that male breast cancer — also called male breast neoplasm — is a rare disorder that afflicts about 2,670 men each year. Breast cancer infrequently occurs in men and accounts for less than 1 percent of all breast cancer cases. In 2018, key statistics from the American Cancer Society (ACS) reported that around 500 men will die from this malignancy, particularly without proper treatment.
Although men technically do not have breasts like women, they do have breast tissue. Breast tissue is where cancer cells form. And, unlike female breast cancer, which can strike women at any age, male breast cancer often arises in older men or seniors. BreastCancer.org noted that 68 is the average age of men diagnosed with breast neoplasm.
Similar to breast cancers that befall women, the malignant disease that affects men is treatable if detected during its early stages. The survival rate is high, at about 84 percent overall.
2. Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Merkel Cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive form of skin cancer, with “aggressive” meaning it grows and spreads fast. In most cases, MCC begins on sun-exposed skin, such as the arms, neck, and head. This rare skin cancer, however, can still appear on any part of the body, including sun-protected areas. The bump that develops from MCC is often painless, firm, and purplish-red or flesh in color.
Currently, statistics from the ACS estimated that about 2,000 people in the United States receive a Merkel Cell carcinoma diagnosis each year. But according to numerous reports, there has been a definite increase in the number of MCC incidence over the last ten years. In fact, doctors and researchers suspect that Merkel Cell carcinoma cases in the U.S. may be over 3,250 by the year 2025.
3. Heart Cancer (Primary Cardiac Tumor)
Heart cancers or primary cardiac tumors are among the rarest of all malignant diseases, with prime hospitals throughout the world reporting about 1 to 2 cases per year. In general, both malignant and benign (noncancerous) heart tumors are uncommon because the cells in the heart do not divide like in other parts of the body. The division of cells presents a serious risk for cancer development. But since the heart’s cells do not divide, it is quite rare for cancer to take root.
According to leading surgery and autopsy reports, primary cardiac tumors account for about 0.3 to 0.7 percent of all heart tumors. Of these primary cardiac tumors, about 25 percent are cancerous, and of these, about 75 percent are sarcomas (cancers that grow in connective tissue).
Additional research has revealed that heart cancer primarily affects younger adults. It remains unknown whether certain diets or lifestyle choices, such as excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use, put people at risk.
4. Thymoma (Thymic Carcinoma)
Thymoma is not only rare and aggressive, but it also has a poor prognosis if caught in its advanced stages. Affecting the thymus gland — located behind the sternum and between the lungs — this cancer, unfortunately, is almost always detected at an advanced stage. The majority of patients diagnosed with thymic carcinoma show atypical or vague symptoms, which make it a challenge to diagnose. At present time, there are no known tumor markers for thymoma screening.
From a worldwide perspective, it is unknown how many men and women have thymic carcinoma since it is hard to detect. In the United States, the ACS estimated that thymoma occurs at a rate of 1.5 cases for every million people per annum (around 400 cases). Since thymoma is usually caught at a later stage, the relative five-year survival rate is about 30 to 50 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.
5. Hyalinizing Clear Cell Carcinoma
In 1994, scientists first described hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma as a salivary gland tumor. During the initial research, they reported about 11 cases of hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma. Since then, there have been approximately 40 additional cases of this rare cancer reported, bringing the total number of incidents up to 51. As such, hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma is the rarest cancer in the world, and with very few people knowing about it.
Thanks to the documented investigations, doctors now understand that hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma affects more women than men. As a rare malignant salivary gland tumor, it accounts for about 1 percent of all intraoral salivary gland cancers. Still, most patients often make a full recovery.
What You Need to Know About Diagnosing and Treating Rare Cancers
All cancer diagnoses are difficult and heartbreaking, but rare malignant disorders can be especially challenging for patients, their family, caregivers, and even clinicians. For many rare cancers, scientific research to identify the causes, develop strategies for prevention, and classify tumor markers for early detection is a long, painstaking process. Rare tumors and cancers can also be challenging to diagnose, often resulting in countless physician visits and misdiagnoses.
Finally, after receiving an accurate diagnosis, patients and caregivers can have a tough time finding relevant information about their disease, and conventional treatment options are often limited. Luckily, New Hope Unlimited can provide powerful alternatives.
Get Treatment for Even the Rarest of Cancers
Choosing the right treatment center may be the most critical decision to make as a patient with a rare form of cancer. Here at New Hope Unlimited, each patient will receive care from some of the leading providers of alternative cancer treatments in the world. Our expertise begins with creating a 100 percent personalized treatment plan for common and rare cancers, which we carry on through groundbreaking remedies and into survivorship. Dial 480-757-6573 today or complete our online form to schedule your consultation.