There are limited published data on the burden of rare cancers in the United States. By using data from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries and the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, the authors provide information on incidence rates, stage at diagnosis, and survival for more than 100 rare cancers (defined as an incidence of fewer than 6 cases per 100,000 individuals per year) in the United States. Overall, approximately 20% of patients with cancer in the United States are diagnosed with a rare cancer. Rare cancers make up a larger proportion of cancers diagnosed in Hispanic (24%) and Asian/Pacific Islander (22%) patients compared with non-Hispanic blacks (20%) and non-Hispanic whites (19%). More than two-thirds (71%) of cancers occurring in children and adolescents are rare cancers compared with less than 20% of cancers diagnosed in patients aged 65 years and older. Among solid tumors, 59% of rare cancers are diagnosed at regional or distant stages compared with 45% of common cancers. In part because of this stage distribution, 5-year relative survival is poorer for patients with a rare cancer compared with those diagnosed with a common cancer among both males (55% vs 75%) and females (60% vs 74%). However, 5-year relative survival is substantially higher for children and adolescents diagnosed with a rare cancer (82%) than for adults (46% for ages 65-79 years). Continued efforts are needed to develop interventions for prevention, early detection, and treatment to reduce the burden of rare cancers. Such discoveries can often advance knowledge for all cancers. CA Cancer J Clin 2017. © 2017 American Cancer Society. CA Cancer J Clin 2017;67:261-272. © 2017 American Cancer Society.
Keywords: epidemiology; incidence rates; rare cancers; survival.
© 2017 American Cancer Society.