A rare disease is referred to as an orphan disease because it affects a small percentage of population, either geographically or worldwide. Cancer is a disease and falls into the orphan disease category. Globally, there is no standard incidence rate for orphan diseases.
Until recently, orphan diseases received limited or negligible funding for research into their diagnosis and treatment as opposed to more prevalent diseases.
There is a rise in orphan disease research as a result of patient advocacy, venture capital investment, industry collaboration, medical breakthroughs, and legislative incentives. Many countries have adopted an orphan drug act to to clear the drug development path for overlooked, rare diseases.
The Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders (CORD) is Canada's national network for organizations representing those with rare disorders. CORD serves as an advocate for health policy and a supportive healthcare system for those with rare disorders in Canada, and works to ensure Canada's Clinical Trial Registry works effectively for those with rare disorders.
The Alberta Cancer Foundation has made enormous progress in cancer research. They have launched a scientific review panel to examine the science behind research and to measure results. This has significant impact on orphan cancers as research on more prominent cancers can also be used to treat orphan cancers.
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