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Rare Tumours programme

Coordinator: Paolo Casali, Milan, IT

ESO joins the worldwide movement about rare cancers. ESO is already covering pediatric cancers (all of which are rare) and haematological cancers (many of which are rare) and has decided to set up a specific programme on rare solid cancers of the adult. There is a huge educational gap on these tumors, which ESO will help fill.

According to the RARECARE project, rare solid cancers of the adult make up 15% of all new cancer cases, being the following:

  1. Sarcomas
  2. Rare thoracic tumors (mesothelioma, thymic neoplasms)
  3. Neuroendocrine tumors
  4. Endocrine gland tumors
  5. Head & neck cancers
  6. Central nervous system neoplasms
  7. Digestive rare cancers
  8. Rare urological and male genital tumors
  9. Rare female genital cancers
  10. Rare skin cancers & non-cutaneous melanoma

There is a growing demand for medical education of young oncologists willing to devote their professional life to some or all rare adult solid cancers. ESO launched a programme of residential courses in this field and each course will focus on one of the ten families of rare cancers listed above, within a multidisciplinary context.

In partnership with ESMO, every year ESO will organize an annual Advanced Course, Clinical Update on Rare Adult Solid Cancers, as a regular appointment for clinical oncologists and to keep them updated on novelties about rare adult solid cancers.

ESO is aware that medical education should tackle rarity appropriately. Standard medical education is unlikely to succeed when trainees do not regularly encounter the disease in their everyday practice. This is the reason why educational efforts on rare cancers should be preferably shaped with a view to the healthcare facilities in the community, especially looking at existing networks. In fact, networking is the keyword to improve quality of care of rare cancers. In the end, educational efforts should try to be instrumental to existing healthcare networks covering rare cancers., Thus, ESO is actively involved as associate partner in the ERN EURACAN, the European Reference Network on rare adult solid cancers, since its inception in 2017.The educational events are developed in close collaboration with the network also with the aim of promoting further interaction and distance mentorship.

In addition, ESO joined the European rare cancer community with a seat in the Steering committee of Rare Cancers Europe (RCE), the multi-stakeholder effort launched by ESMO in partnership with clinical and research communities, patient groups, industries, as a “think-tank” to tackle the several issues posed by rare cancers. The RCE training course for advocacy groups is held every year in parallel sessions with the ESO Clinical Update on rare cancers for physicians. It represents an opportunity for patients and their representatives to learn from their peers and interact with medical experts in rare cancers.


e-ESO offers different e-learning materials on this topic. Please find the list here:

Rare tumours: https://www.e-eso.net/sessions.do?methodcall=loadSearch&topics=63
Rare tumours pathways:
Adult-type soft tissue sarcomas
Bone and paediatric sarcomas
The challenges of rare cancers

For further information regarding the programme please contact:
Marina Fregonese
Rare Tumours Programme


Rare cancers