Rare types of cancers

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 11 Jul, 2019 11:01 | 4 mins read
In the fight against cancer, we all have a role to play. PHOTO | FILE
In the fight against cancer, we all have a role to play. PHOTO | FILE
In the fight against cancer, we all have a role to play. PHOTO | FILE

1.Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) does not usually form tumours. It is generally widespread throughout the bone marrow and, in some cases, spreads to other organs, such as the liver and spleen.

The outlook for a person with AML depends on other information, such as the subtype of AML (determined by lab tests), the patient’s age, and other lab test results. In most types of AML, the leukemia cells are immature white blood cells (blast cells).

In less common types of AML, there are too many immature platelets or immature red blood cells are made. AML progresses rapidly and is typically fatal within weeks or months if left untreated.

Risk factors include smoking, previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy, myelodysplastic syndrome, and exposure to chemical benzene. AML is rare and account for only one per cent of all cancers.

2.  Bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma)

This cancer starts in the lining of the bile duct. It is rare and mainly affects adults aged over 65. It can sometimes be cured if caught early, but it’s not usually picked up until a later stage.

There aren’t usually any symptoms until it grows large enough to block the bile ducts. This can cause yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), itchy skin, pale stools and dark urine, loss of appetite and weight loss, persistent tiredness and feeling unwell, tummy (abdominal) pain and swelling – some people feel a dull ache in the upper right hand side of their tummy, high temperature (fever), chills and shivering.

3.  Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP)

This usually starts in the appendix. Only about one in a million people get it. The cause of PMP isn’t known. It normally develops slowly and makes a jelly-like liquid called mucin. Eventually, the cancer spreads into the space inside the peritoneum (layer of tissue that lines the abdomen).

As the mucin builds up, it puts pressure on the bowel and other organs. You may not have any symptoms at first, but they can include gradual increase in waist size, loss of appetite, unexplained weight gain, tummy pain and changes in bowel habits.

4. Spinal cord tumours

Although rare, several tumours can start in the spinal cord causing problems by pressing on the nerves that run from the brain to the middle of the back to different areas of the body. Symptoms may include back or neck pain, and numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms or legs.

5. Salivary gland cancer

Salivary gland tumours are rare, accounting for less than 10 per cent of all head and neck tumours. They begin in any of the salivary glands the mouth, neck or throat. The main treatment for salivary gland cancer is usually surgery. You may have radiotherapy after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. Sometimes radiotherapy is given as the main treatment.

6.  Burkitt Lymphoma (BL)

Burkitt lymphoma is a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in which cancer starts in immune cells called B-cells. Recognised as the fastest growing human tumour, it is associated with impaired immunity and is rapidly fatal if left untreated.

However, intensive chemotherapy can achieve long-term survival in more than half the people with Burkitt lymphoma. Burkitt’s lymphoma is most common in children living in sub-Saharan Africa, where it’s related to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and chronic malaria.

7.  Eye cancer (Ocular melanoma)

Your odds of getting this cancer are about six in one million. Eye melanoma does not always cause any symptoms and may be found by an optician during a routine eye test. Signs and symptoms can include blurred vision, seeing flashing lights and shadows, brown or dark patches on the white area of the eye.

These symptoms can be caused by other eye conditions. The cause of eye melanoma is not known. The main risk factor for skin melanoma is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. This can be through natural light from the sun, or through artificial light used in sunbeds or sunlamps.

8.  Penis cancer

Penis cancer is uncommon and usually affects men aged over 65. Symptoms include a thickening or change in colour of the skin, a flat growth or sore on the penis, discharge or bleeding from the growth or sore. These symptoms can be caused by other conditions, but it is best to get them checked by your GP.

The exact cause of penis cancer is unknown. The chances of developing cancer of the penis may be increased by certain risk factors such as human papilloma virus (HPV) and having a tight foreskin that does not pull back easily. It is less common in men who are circumcised.

9.  Breast cancer in men

Even though men don’t have breasts like women, they do have a small amount of breast tissue. The problem is that breast cancer in men is often diagnosed later than breast cancer in women.

This may be because men are less likely to be suspicious of something strange in their breasts. Also, their small amount of breast tissue is harder to feel.

Risk factors include; breast cancer in a close female relative, history of radiation exposure of the chest and enlargement of breasts (called gynecomastia) from drug or hormone treatments, or even some infections.

Others include taking oestrogen, a rare genetic condition called Klinefelter’s syndrome, severe liver disease called cirrhosis and diseases of the testicles such as mumps orchitis, a testicular injury, or an undescended testicle.

10.  Chondrosarcoma (cartiatel bone cancer)

It is a rare type of bone cancer because it affects the tough covering on the ends of bones called cartilage. Pain is the most common symptom. The area may also be swollen and tender to touch. An X-ray of the bone usually shows the tumour. Compiled by Irene Mwambura