Frequently asked questions
Because they affect most people, most cancer research is done on the four most common types of cancer: breast, prostate, colon and lung. Although much needs to be done to improve the way that these cancers are diagnosed and treated, far less is known about the rare forms of cancer which means that it is often difficult for doctors to give the best advice and prescribe the best forms of treatment to people affected by them.
For research to be reliable it needs to be undertaken on enough people to be sure that observations aren’t occurring purely by chance. Finding enough people willing to take part in research with a certain type of cancer is relatively easy for the common cancers but for rare cancer it can be very difficult as they may live anywhere in the United Kingdom
In order to find better ways of diagnosing and treating rare cancer research scientists need to be able to study samples taken from real-life tumours. Studies on animals or cells grown in the laboratory can provide important clues but cannot substitute for the real thing. However, samples by themselves are only of limited value unless they are accompanied by additional information such as when and where the cancer arose and if the person affected by the tumour has received any treatment. The more we know about a cancer the better we can match it with the particular requirements that our clients may have and the greater the chance will be that their research to lead to useful discoveries.
Cancer information packs
Detailed information about individual rare cancers.