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According to IARC figures ‘rare and less common’ cancers comprise more than a third of all cancer diagnoses as a group. However, advances in molecular biology have resulted in novel ways to classify cancers based upon genetic alterations and not just anatomical location, and this revised classification is at the heart of any move toward more personalized healthcare. It is now increasingly accepted that cancer should be thought of as many hundreds of more rare subtypes, each of which will have specific therapeutic options. We have selected colorectal carcinoma to illustrate the concept that each cancer is ‘rare’, and demonstrate why this is important for delivering on the concept of Predictive, Preventive and Personalized Medicine (PPPM) for cancer in terms of prediction of who will get the disease, how it will behave and how to prevent it.
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