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Rare Cancers

29th June 2009 by Carol Posted in Uncategorized

While the diagnosis of cancer for anybody is traumatic, the diagnosis of a rare form of cancer carries many more burdens.

Oft-diagnosed cancers such as of the breast or prostate are treatable in part because so many people have contracted them. Shear numbers of patients along with the research funding they inspire contribute to the development of effective, well-tested therapies. As a result, if caught early, many of these forms of cancer have a very high survival rate.

Rare cancers, on the other hand, are more difficult to treat because there are few, if any, well-established protocols, considerably less research on which to base a treatment, and a lot less research funding. As a result, doctors may not be able to predict the course of the disease. While it financially makes sense across the whole of society to focus on cancers that attack more people, this logic adds to the devastation patients who have rare forms of cancer and their families experience.

The one bit of good news is that the internet makes it possible for patients with rare cancers and their families to share information about treatments and outcomes as well as emotional support.

If you or a family member is suspected of having a rare form of cancer, it is important to do a lot of research about this cancer. Many of the usual popular websites on medical information may not offer a lot of help. However, if you can get access to Medline, which is the database of research publications in the field of medicine, you can find out what is known about the cancer. Through paying attention to the authors of these publications and the institutions with which they are associated, you may be able to find the best source for treatment. Many public and university libraries can connect you with Medline.

General web searches on the type of cancer will lead you to any websites for patients and their families. In addition to the specific type of cancer, a search for “rare cancer” will lead you to websites for patients and their families.

People with cancer need a lot of support from people who really understand what all stages of the disease and its treatment feel like physically and emotionally. People with rare forms of cancer need this kind of support as well as support from people who understand how it feels to be dealing with a disease with few treatment options and a strong possibility of a poor outcome.

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One Response to “Rare Cancers”

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