Sunday, 14 August 2011

Rare Types of Cancer

Rare Types of Cancer
There are many rare types of cancers, most of them are absolutely unheard of. Some of these rare cancers covered in the following health article will help you know more about them.

Cancer is still one of the most feared diseases in the world. Cancer occurs when cells grow out of control. There are over 100 types of cancers that affect different cells in the body. These 100 types are further sub-divided into different categories. You may have heard of lung cancer, blood cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancers. But did you know there are many rare types of cancers that strike about 20% of all cancer cases affecting adults as well as children.

What are Rare Cancers?

According to the National Cancer Institute, a cancer is considered to be a rare cancer if it occurs in less than 15 people per 100,000 annually. It is not always some unheard cancer that is considered to be rare. Cancers like liver cancer or ovarian cancers are also said to be rare. This is because cancers like ovarian cancers affect only 21,000 American women in a year. Since the total cases are less than 40,000 a year that makes it a rare occurrence. Many people diagnosed with rare cancers are worried, as not much is known about their condition. However, one should not get scared, and one should look for support. There are many online websites, communities and forums that discuss such cancers. You can find websites that are totally devoted to rare disorders and help you know more about the treatments available for these rare conditions. The following paragraphs cover a list of rare types of cancers. The information provided is brief, but will help you know some basic information about these rare cancer types.

Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
This is one of the rare types of cancer of nasopharynx. This cancer occurs in the back of the throat behind the nose. This cancer is not easy to detect, because of its location. A gene mutation causes the normal squamous cells on the nasopharynx surface to grow out of control. This abnormal growth causes the cells to metastasize to other parts of the body. The exact cause for this gene mutation is not clear. However, it is through an infection by the Epstein-Barr virus that increases the risk of this cancer. The symptoms in the initial stages are not very apparent. However, as the cancer grows, some of the signs include a lump in the neck due to swollen lymph nodes. Bloody discharge from the nose, blood in saliva, nasal congestion, recurrent ear infections, headaches, loss of hearing, are also possible signs of nasopharyngeal cancer.

Malignant Mesothelioma
One of the rare types of cancers of the mesothelium is malignant mesothelioma. The mesothelium is the thin layer of tissue that lines most of the internal organs of the body. There are different types of mesothelioma depending on the type of mesothelium affected. If the tissues surrounding the lungs are affected it is called as pleural malignant mesotheliomathis, and is a very aggressive cancer that is often fatal. The causes of this cancer are linked to genetic mutations. What exactly leads to these mutations is still unclear and thought to be an effect of various factors like inherited conditions, environmental factors as well as lifestyle. The symptoms depend on the location of the cancer. It may lead to chest pain, painful coughing, breathing trouble, lump under the skin of the chest and weight loss in case of pleural malignant mesothelioma. If it occurs in the abdomen tissues it leads to abdominal swelling, pain, lump in abdomen and weight loss.

Vaginal Cancer
A rare type of cancer in women is vaginal cancer. This cancer occurs in the muscular tube that connects the outer genitals with the uterus. This cancer occurs in the cells lining the birth canal. This cancer generally occurs due to metastasized cancer from other parts of the body. A primary vaginal cancer, that originates in the vagina is extremely rare. There are different types of vaginal cancers that occur in different cells lining the vagina. Again, the exact cause of the genetic mutation of the cells, leading them to proliferate voraciously, is unknown. The symptoms include unusual vaginal bleeding, watery discharge, lump in vagina, painful urination, pelvic pain and constipation.

Carcinoid Syndrome
One of the rare types of lung cancers is carcinoid syndrome. This is a cancerous tumor that secretes chemicals(serotonin) into the blood. These chemicals cause various signs and symptoms in the body. These are slow growing cancers that are generally diagnosed after they have progressed to an advanced stage. These cancers can also occur in the gastrointestinal tract as well as lungs. The cause of this cancer is also unclear, and some of the symptoms include facial skin lesions and a flushed skin appearance. A flushing episode lasts for about 30 seconds to 30 minutes and causes the skin to become red, pink or purple. One may even suffer from diarrhea, stomach cramps, breathing difficulty and rapid heartbeat.

This is a rare type of eye cancer that occurs in the retina. This is one of the rare types of cancers in children, especially very young children. The nerve cells in the retina grow and multiply, invading other parts of the eye. These cancerous cells may even invade other areas like brain and spine. It is a genetic mutation, believed to be a hereditary condition. The symptoms include white color in the center of the eye pupil. Eyes look in different directions, become red and swell due to the cancer.

Trabecular Cancer
Trabecular cancer is one of the rare types of skin cancer. It is one of the types of Merkel cell cancer. This cancer occurs in, or just beneath, the hair follicles or skin. This cancer is seen in the sun-exposed skin of elderly patients. This cancer consists of the dermal nodules of the small round cells. The tumor cells contain cytoplasmic dense core granules. These cells are similar in appearance to the Merkel cells. The cause is unknown, but thought to be related to immune system suppression as well as sun exposure. It leads to formation of firm, shiny skin lumps. These lumps do not hurt, and are either red, pink or blue in color.

Heart Cancer
This is an extremely rare type of cancer that can either occur as a primary heart tumor or secondary heart tumor. There are different types of malignant heart cancers like angiosarcomas, myxosarcomas, leiomyosarcomas, liposarcomas, etc. These cancers lead to death of the patient within 2 years of diagnosis. They cause obstruction of blood flow within the heart, and rapidly infiltrate the myocardium causing death of patient.

Appendix Cancer
A rare form of cancer is appendix cancer. The malignant form of appendix cancer, mucinous cystadenocarcinoma affects the appendix wall or epithelial cells of the mucous in peritoneum. In 1993, famous actress Audrey Hepburn died due to appendix cancer.

One of the rare types of brain cancer is gliosarcoma. This cancer occurs in the glial, or supportive brain cells. It is more common in men than women. It generally affects people over the age of 50.

An extremely rare form of cancer that occurs in the olfactory epithelium of the nasal cavity. Only 200 cases of this rare types of caner has been reported around the world since its discovery in 1924. This cancer leads to loss of vision, sight and taste.

Male Breast Cancer
One of the rare types of breast cancer is male breast cancer. This cancer spreads through the lymphatic system and blood stream in men, just like female breast cancer. The lesions in men are easier to spot due to small breast size. However, most cases of male breast cancer are diagnosed in the stage III or IV.

As these cancers occur in very few people, detailed studies are not possible. Thus, the treatment for these rare cancers generally include, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. There are many websites and online communities dedicated to help people with these rare forms of cancer. For further information, do visit these online websites or speak to an oncologist regarding your queries.

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