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Rare cancers

Cancers occurring in low patient numbers which collectively amount to one-third of all cancer diagnoses and half of cancer-related deaths

Rare cancers are defined as having fewer than six diagnoses per 100,000 people. While this figure is small, there are hundreds of cancers that fall into this category, many of which have high mortality rates. Together, these cancers have a significant impact on the community’s health, occurring across all age groups and accounting for one in two cancer deaths.

Rare cancers affect many different parts of the body, from the brain and central nervous system to the connective tissue and blood. Sadly, because fewer patients are diagnosed with these cancers, limited resources have been invested to develop diagnostic tools and treatments.

For more information about rare cancers, visit Rare Cancers Australia.

Rare cancer research at Garvan

Garvan’s research into less common, high-mortality cancers is diverse, focusing on translating basic scientific discoveries into the clinic. It includes using genomic screening to treat patients with rare cancer based on the individual genetic variation of their tumours, rather than on the location of the tumours in their body. Through an innovative clinical trial called Molecular Screening and Therapeutics, or MoST, our researchers are evaluating the effectiveness of new treatments for patients with high-mortality cancers and investigating new biomarkers that can predict which patients will benefit from these treatments.