Authors: Jade Parker, Editor
One definition of rare cancers is that with an incidence of less than six cases per 100,000 population each year. Identifying 198 cancers as rare leads to the estimate that they constitute 22% cancers. In the USA, the National Cancer Institute uses a definition of <15 per 100,000 which translates to rare cancers accounting for 25% of cancer-related deaths . To mark Rare Disease Day we have collated our top content exploring the treatment options and clinical trials for rare cancers.
Common cancers have more standard-of-care treatment options than rare cancers and some rare cancers do not even have any established effective treatment options. Yet, most oncology trials are performed in common cancers, such as breast or colorectal cancers. By contrast, patients with rare tumors remain under-represented and often neglected. They mostly do not have any clinical trials they are eligible for.
Bridging the gap between the two, last year there was finally good news for patients with rare cancers; there is now a way to access immunotherapy in the clinic. Individuals with rare cancers were able to join a national immunotherapy clinical trial designed for a wide variety of rare tumors. It is the first federally funded immunotherapy trial devoted to rare cancers.
Read the full opinion piece here.