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“The Institut Jules Bordet has long been recognised for its treatment of rare tumours”

Dr Ahmad Awada,

How we treat rare tumours

Rare tumours account for around a quarter of the cancers treated at the Institut Jules Bordet. These cancers require very particular and multidisciplinary treatment.

A tumour is described as rare when it affects fewer than 6 people in 100,000. It may appear in an organ or in tissue that is only very rarely affected by cancer (eg: the salivary glands, the penis, etc), or may be situated in an organ where cancer is relatively common but show cell characteristics that are different from those usually observed.

The examinations required to confirm and refine a rare tumour diagnosis are numerous and depend on its location and its type.

Ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, PET scan (positron emission tomography) and endoscopy may be required. But it is the anatomo-pathological tumour sample analysis (biopsy via surgery) that gives the rare tumour diagnosis by revealing a very unusual type of cancer cells. This means that the expertise of pathologists is crucial in this type of diagnosis and it is not unusual for anatomo-pathologists at the Institut Jules Bordet to work together with other major anatomo-pathology laboratories in Belgium and abroad to provide expertise in determining the diagnosis and sending samples for second opinions.

Analysis of the tumour genome using molecular biology and DNA sequencing techniques carried out by pathologists can help guide oncologists in deciding upon a particular treatment.