Rare Cancers, Cancer Subtypes, and Pre-Cancers

If you are having trouble finding information about a type of cancer, it may be a rare cancer or have more than one name. It might also be a condition known as a pre-cancer or something that might lead to or turn into cancer later. The information below should be able to help you find information you need.

What is a rare cancer?

Rare cancers are unusual, or not as common as other cancers. Because fewer people have had them, there’s less known about them and information might be harder to find.

Why is it hard to find information on rare cancers?

Some cancers are so rare that only a handful of people are diagnosed with them each year. What is known about each type of cancer is usually learned from clinical trials and the experience of people with that cancer type. Because not many people have these rare cancers, they may not have been studied in clinical trials and some doctors haven’t taken care of anyone with them.  Much of the information about these cancers come from case studies where doctors shared the experience of one patient so that others can learn about it.

Where to find treatment for a rare cancer

If you or someone you know has a rare cancer, you may need to travel to find a doctor or cancer center that has experience treating that cancer. ​Larger cancer centers or hospitals are also more likely to have clinical trials (research studies) you might be able to take part in. ACS has information that can help you choose a cancer center or hospital or choose a cancer doctor.

List of rare cancers and cancer subtypes

The list below includes cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions and where to find more information.

To find more information about rare cancers, cancer subtypes and pre-cancers

This list does not include all types of rare cancers, cancer subtypes and precancers.  If you cannot find the type of cancer you’re looking for or would like more information, the National Institute of Health Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center website has information about rare cancers, pre-cancers, cancer subtypes, and conditions that might place a person at higher risk for cancer.

You can also find more detailed information about some rare cancers on the National Cancer Institute website.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: January 11, 2022

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