Rare Cancers Australia

The next time you are in Springett’s Arcade on Bong Bong Street, Bowral, you may notice the offices of Rare Cancers Australia (RCA) on the first floor. How can a charity with an innovative national agenda operate successfully from the Southern Highlands ?

“We established the charity to make a difference to those Australians who are suffering or will suffer from a rare or less common cancer” said Kate Vines, founder and Head of Patient Care at RCA. “We knew we would need to spend a great deal of time in Canberra and Sydney dealing with Government and the pharmaceutical industry. The Southern Highlands provides the perfect mid-way point between the two cities and we love it here.”

RCA was formed by Kate and her husband Richard at the suggestion of Kate’s oncologist and reflects her passion for patient care. Kate comments: “When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 1991 there was no information and no treatment other than surgery. I felt very alone, abandoned almost. Our hope is that, through our work, patients will eventually receive support and information equivalent to breast cancer patients. Breast cancer support is the absolute gold standard”.

With the leadership and vision of Kate and Richard, RCA is working hard on its mission : to improve awareness, support and treatment of Australians with rare and less common cancers.

What are Rare and Less Common cancers ?

‘Rare cancers’ are defined as those with an incidence of fewer than 6 per 100,000 Australians per annum.
‘Less common cancers’ are those with an incidence of between 6 and 12 (inclusive) per 100,000 Australians per annum.
In this context, ‘incidence’ means the number of people newly diagnosed in any one year.

When we talk of the most common cancers, we are usually referring to cancers of the prostate, breast, bowel, lung , as well as those of the skin. Yet rare and less common (RLC) cancers account for 33% of the burden of disease in Australia, and 45% of all cancer-related deaths.

So, what are some of these rare and less common ones ? They can include cancers of the blood, brain, thyroid, ovary, uterus, cervix, testes, liver, stomach, oesophagus, tongue, lip, larynx, kidney, bladder, gallbladder, pancreas, along with conditions like mesothelioma and those cancers where the primary site is unknown. Actually, there are about 200 different types; it is a broad and diverse group of conditions, each with their own special characteristics, frequency and survival outcomes. The one feature they share is that there are fewer patients with that same type of cancer.

A recent expansion to the support offered by RCA was the addition of their KnowledgeBase facility which can be accessed through their website. The KnowledgeBase is a part of Rare Cancer Australia’s wider Patient Support Program aimed at providing patients with a centre of knowledge, guidance, advice and hope. It’s a collection of invaluable resources including a Rare Cancer Directory together with a list of hospitals that have Cancer Centres. You will also find a list of Multi-disciplinary Teams and clinicians that have a special interest in specific rare cancers.

Richard, Kate, and Christine Cockburn take turns in representing RCA at the meetings of our Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee.

You can find out a lot more about RCA by visiting their website :  www.rarecancers.org.au

The office is located in Springetts Arcade, Bong Bong Street, Bowral.
Postal : PO Box 440, Bowral, NSW, 2576.
Telephone : 4862 2768.     
Email : contact@rarecancers.org.au