Home > Diseases we research > Neglected cancers


In Neglected Cancers Awareness Week, Garvan is calling for more focus on neglected cancers. There are nearly 186 neglected cancer types, which currently account for 25% of cancer diagnoses and nearly 40% of cancer deaths.
About neglected cancers

What are neglected cancers?

‘Rare’ or less common cancers only occur in around 12 in 100,000 Australians a year, although collectively they are still responsible for a quarter of all cancer patients and have a high mortality rate, accounting for more than one in three cancer deaths.

Key statistics

  • 25%
    ‘Rare’ and less common cancers together represent around 25% of all cancers
  • All ages
    ‘Rare’ and less common cancers occur across all age groups
  • Mortality rate
    The less common cancers have a much higher mortality rate than more common ones
  • 1 in 3
    Less common cancers account for 1 in 3 cancer deaths

Research into less common cancers at Garvan

Advances in medical and genomic research (looking at the interplay between all our genes together and with our habits and our environment) have improved our understanding of cancer so that cancers once defined by their location in the body, such as breast or skin, may now be categorised by harmful variations to their genetic structure.

We now know that at a cellular level, common cancers are actually composed of multiple subtypes and that allows researchers and pharmaceutical companies to target specific medicines to these genetic abnormalities far more effectively.

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