- Besides the more common breast, skin and lung cancers, there are many others
- Rare cancers make up 22% of all diagnosed cases in the world
- In South Africa, before Covid-19, 9% of all deaths were due to cancer
Breast, lung, skin and prostate cancers are the ones most commonly reported in the media - with plenty of research funding and awareness about the signs to look out for.
There are, however, many other types of cancers that are not as well-known because they are less common. Rare cancers account for 22% of all cancers diagnosed worldwide, and they generally have a higher mortality rate.
Part of the reason for this is the lack of incentives from pharmaceutical companies to research these types of cancers. Studies, therefore, tend to be small and poorly funded.
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In South Africa, about 9% of all pre-Covid-19 deaths were attributed to cancer, according to the health department. The most common cancers in 2014 for women were breast, cervix, colon, uterus and lung cancers. For men, the most common were cancers of the prostate, colon, lung, bladder and oesophagus.
In children – in whom all cancers are considered rare – the most commons were acute leukaemia, brain tumours, nephroblastoma, neuroblastoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Below is a rundown of lesser-known cancers you may be less familiar with, their five-year survival rate and symptoms to look out for.
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If you're ever diagnosed with a lesser-known or rare cancer, here are some questions you can ask your doctor to ensure you get the best treatment:
- How many cases of this type of cancer have they treated?
- Are there specialist centres that treat this type of cancer?
- Is it worth it to get a second opinion from a specialist intimately familiar with this type of cancer?
- What is the aim of treatment?
- Where is the best place to find more resources on this type of cancer?
- Are there support groups focused on this specific type of cancer?
- What are the treatment options?
- What will it involve?
- What are the chances the treatment will work?
- Are there any clinical trials for this cancer one can participate in?
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