Rare Types of Cancer: Why Should You Be Concerned?

Cancer has undeniably caused panic to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. Perhaps laying down the figures related to such a response would give us a full grasp of what this vicious health condition can do to humankind:

  • The National Cancer Institute estimates that 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the US and 595,690 will die from the disease this year.
  • Moreover, new instances of cancer cases (cancer incidence) is about 454.8 per 100,000 men and women each year. This is based on the 2008-2012 cases diagnosed.
  • The number of cancer deaths or also known as cancer deaths is 171.2 per 100,000 men and women each year (also based on the 2008-2012 deaths).
  • The figures also reveal that cancer mortality is higher among men than women (207.9 per 100,000 men and 145.4 per 100,000 women). It is most prevalent in African American men (261.5 per 100,000) and least widespread in Asian/Pacific Islander women (91.2 per 100,000). Again, this is based on 2008-2012 deaths.
  • The number of people who live past a cancer diagnosis reached almost 14.5 million in 2014 and is anticipated to rise to almost 19 million by 2024.
  • Based on a 2010-2012 data, there around 39.6 percent of men as well as women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes.
  • In 2014, around 15,780 children as well as teens with age up to 19 were diagnosed with cancer. Of these, 1,960 died of the disease.
  • With the increasing number of diagnosed cancer patients, the National expenses for cancer care in the United States is reported to have reached about $125 billion in 2010 and is anticipated to reach $156 billion in 2020.

Even with these disturbing facts, we still cling on to the hope of a better future for our cancer-stricken society. Considering that reports claim that there has been a significant decrease in the number of death rates in patients that had been diagnosed of having cancer, the global community can still do much to address this issue.

To have a glimpse of this encouraging variations, it is vital to recognize the data provided, which highlights a continuing decline in the mortality rates among men, women, as well as children previously diagnosed to have been diagnosed to have cancer, as presented by the National Cancer Institute. This covers a ten-year period—from 2002 to 2011, and as experienced base on a per year observation:

  • Among men, by about 1.8 percent
  • Among women, by about 1.4 percent
  • Among children up to 19 years old, death rates have continued to mostly decrease since 1975

To have a more detailed information on cancer and its effect on the number of people that address this health concern, the statistics that establish the extent of its effect on people all over the world, as well as government efforts being conducted to address this major health concern, the National Cancer Institute presents related data for 2016.

Cancer is a general term that refers to a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms associated with it are malignant tumors as well as neoplasms. One defining characteristic of this health condition is the rapid development of abnormal cells that extends beyond their normal boundaries. In the process, these abnormal growths invade adjoining parts of the body and then spread to other organs. The latter phase is identified as metastasizing. Metastases are the primary cause of death from cancer.

There are about 100 types of cancer. These types are normally named for the organs or tissues where the cancers develop. As such, lung cancer is given to a cancer type that starts in cells of the lung, and brain cancer is the name given for a heath condition where cancer cells develop in the brain. Each cancer type has a causes, symptoms, as well as methods of treatment that is unique to it. Like all other groups of disease, some types of cancer are more common than others. To be considered as a common cancer, the estimated annual prevalence for 2016 has to be 40,000 cases or more. The most common type of cancer is breast cancer, and is estimated to have an additional 249,000 cases this year in the US alone.

Rare cancer types

How do experts in the field classify a certain cancer type?

Rare cancer is a term which includes both rare and the less common cancers. A cancer to be considered as a rare type of cancer, must have less than 6 incidences per year per 100,000 population. However, a less common cancer is defined as one that registers between 6 and 12 incidences per year per 100,000 population.

Rare cancers encompass a broad as well as a diverse group of cancers which include cancers with a great scope of incidence as well as survival outcomes.

Common cancers including lung, breast, prostate, as well as colon cancer are given more attention, as well as more research funding than the rare types of cancer since more people have been recorded to be affected with types of cancer that fall under this category.

Clinical Care for Patients Diagnosed with a Rare Cancer Type: A Major Concern

Because of the nature of rare cancers, they present specific challenges to the global community, including:

  • Delayed or inappropriate diagnosis
  • Limited access to appropriate treatment methods as well as clinical expertise
  • A shortage in the number of clinical studies available due to the small number of patients
  • Lack of interest to explore possible treatment methods due to limitations in the market
  • Insufficient available registries as well as tissue banks

On a positive note, rare forms of cancer may essentially be easier to cure as they may be affected by a single molecular genetic defect. The problem lies in detecting these rare cancers early, however. It follows that a proper diagnosis as well the correct medical approach will take time to be completed, which may be time enough for the cancer cells to further develop.

There will always be a flicker of hope. Government, related organization, community, as well as individual initiatives are constantly considered to help support the cause. The fight over cancer is a long and tedious one. It requires every one of us to take his or her share to address this global health concern. Will you take your part?

Img c/o Pixabay.