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Cancer Information

Rare cancers

Rare cancers

Any cancer diagnosis can leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed but when you have been diagnosed with a rare or less common cancer it can be particularly challenging and you may feel especially vulnerable and isolated. You don’t have to do this alone. Cancer Council is here for all Australians affected by any cancer.  

What is a rare or less common cancer? 

A rare cancer is one that has an incidence rate of less than 6 cases in 100,000 Australians per annum. Less common cancers are those that have an incidence of between 6 and 12 (inclusive) per 100,000 Australians per annum. These numbers may seem relatively small but collectively rare and less common cancers account for half of all cancer deaths.  

What support and information is available for people affected by less common cancers? 

Cancer Council Australia is committed to supporting all Australians affected by cancer – common, less common and rare. We have recently developed new content and resources for 10 additional less common cancers that give evidence-based information to help you understand the cancer, how it is diagnosed and treated and where to go for additional support services. 

In addition, we have developed a booklet, Understanding Less Common Cancers: a guide for people with cancer, their families and friends to help people better understand rare and less common cancers. It offers suggestions to coping with your diagnosis; making treatment decisions; looking after yourself during and after treatment; as well as providing information on additional support services and practical tips on how to talk to others about cancer.   

The web-based resources for Australians with less common cancers project is a Cancer Australia Supporting people with cancer Grant initiative, funded by the Australian Government.

Wayne's rare cancer experience

In 2019 Wayne was feeling fit and healthy and had just completed a half marathon, when he was diagnosed with small bowel (duodenal) cancer.

While any cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, Wayne was facing a diagnosis of a less common cancer, with little information available about what his cancer experience would involve. He says that the Cancer Council ‘Rare and Less Common Cancer’ resources would have brought him and his family great comfort at a difficult time.  

Wayne's rare cancer experience | Cancer Council Australia