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Rare Cancers Account for Large Percentage of UK Cancer Deaths

A study that was recently completed shows that rare cancers, including mesothelioma, account for over half of all cancer deaths in the United Kingdom.

As is the case in the United States, the United Kingdom has defined mesothelioma and other rare or orphan diseases as those that occur in less than 50 per 100,000 people. The study, which was published on Cancer 52’s website, looked at the incidence and impact of cancer by dividing different types into three different categories. Cancer 52 is a collaboration of over 75 small cancer charities that have combined forces in order to make a bigger difference.

The top category was made up of the most common cancers, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer. These are what the cancer researchers referred to as “the big four”. Following this group came less common cancers, including pancreatic cancer and melanoma. Finally, the last group was made up entirely of rare or orphan cancers including mesothelioma, liver cancer, thyroid cancer and gallbladder cancer. By dividing the different types of cancer up in this manner, the researchers were able to come up with some startling conclusions, most notable of these being the fact that even though the rare cancers are diagnosed so infrequently, they make up more than half of the cancer deaths that occur.

According to Clara Mackay, the interim chair of Cancer 52, “This disparity perfectly illustrates the challenges faced by those diagnosed with a less common cancer. At every stage of the cancer pathway, from diagnosis to access to treatments, everything is more difficult.

An example of the disparity can be seen in the 12 month survival figures of rare cancers when compare to more common cancers. Twelve month survival for pancreatic cancer is just nine percent and just 24 percent for mesothelioma, but for breast cancer the 12-month survival rate is 95 percent. The researchers involved in the study believe that the difference comes from a multitude of factors, including the difficulty of diagnosing rare cancers, the low number of patients and limited treatment options.  The study also found that because of the lack of information available about rare cancers, “once diagnosed the patient experience is worse.”

Early diagnosis can make a significant difference in the outcome and the overall experience of all of the rare cancers.

 

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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