Our rare cancer research efforts are focused on:
Our research efforts are aided by:
When we talk about a rare cancer, we mean a type of cancer that doesn’t happen very often. In fact, there are less than 6 cases of each type of rare cancer for every 100,000 people in Australia each year. Rare cancers can arise in many different parts of the body.
A cancer is considered rare if it:
The following rare cancer types are included in WEHI’s core research focus:
Rare cancers are hard to find early because there are no screening programs. This means they’re often found late, which makes them harder to treat.
Doctors also face challenges in recognising the symptoms of rare cancers because there is limited information available about them.
They often have specific but very rarely seen changes eg under the microscope and additional expertise may be required to reach the correct diagnosis.
Treatments for people with rare cancers have not advanced at the same pace as treatments for more common cancers, such as breast or prostate cancers.
Unlike many people with a common cancer, most people with rare cancers usually don’t have support, treatments and resources that are specific to their cancer. They often have to rely on information and treatments meant for more common cancers.
WEHI is increasing the genetic matching of rare cancers to existing cancer therapies that are used for more common cancers.
Some types of rare cancers respond to treatments, but effective therapies have not been developed for many types of rare cancers.
There are a number of reasons for this.