Forgotten Cancers Project to look at patients with less common cancers

BALLARAT patients are being urged to take part in the Forgotten Cancers Project.

Run by Cancer Council Victoria, the program targets 15 less common cancers; non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukaemia, multiple myeloma, kidney, bladder, stomach, brain, liver, oesophagus, pancreas, uterus, thyroid, gallbladder, small intestine and bone.

Hospitals, universities and research institutions from Australia and overseas will also take part in the research project.

Adults over 18 who have been diagnosed with one of the 15 cancers can take part and, if eligible, an unaffected family member.

Participants will complete an online questionnaire on topics such as lifestyle factors and family cancer, medical and occupational histories.

A DNA sample from saliva will also be taken to help identify genetic variants associated with an increased risk of the targeted cancers.

Cancer Council Victoria said the study was one of the world's first epidemiological-based research projects aiming to understand less common cancer causes.

"Statistics show over half of all cancer deaths are due to less common cancer. This is despite the five most commonly occurring types breast, bowel, prostate, melanoma and lung accounting for 60 per cent of cancer diagnoses in Victoria," the council said.

"With an ageing population, and the fact that cancer occurs more commonly in older people, the number of cancer patients is expected to increase by up to 30 per cent over the next 10 years.

"It is imperative that we invest in collecting data and building a research platform for the forgotten cancers now if we are to address this burden over the coming years.

"There are over 200 different types of cancer, and our work encompasses all of these. Often common cancers such as breast, bowel and prostate receive the most attention, but we are acutely aware of the impact that many less common cancers have on thousands of lives every year."

Researchers have prioritised the 15 cancers based on their poor survival rate or a limited understanding of their causes.

For each cancer, at least 200 patients are needed to begin the research, with 1000 affected people and 1000 unaffected relatives eventually needed for each cancer.

However, anyone who has been diagnosed with another rare cancer may also be eligible.

"Ultimately, we hope that research will help us understand the causes of these less common cancers in order to establish effective prevention methods, reduce the occurrence of these cancers and the associated mortality," the council said.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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