The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) has unveiled a new partnership to improve collaboration and information sharing between European and Asian networks in relation to rare cancers.

The new Rare Cancers Asia (RCA) partnership will be led by ESMO and comprises other key stakeholders, including patient advocacy groups, research institutions, and industry partners across the Asia-Pacific.

The partnership builds on the success of ESMO’s existing Rare Cancers Europe (RCE) initiative and will focus on education, research and epidemiology.

ESMO noted that the collaboration between RCA and RCE will benefit the former from access to the resources offered by European Reference Networks on rare cancers such as EURACAN.

RCA and RCE co-founder Paolo Casali said: “Rare Cancers Asia aims to become the preferred platform for discussing and proposing solutions to the many challenges faced by rare cancer patients, physicians, researchers, industry and other stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Rare Cancers Asia will ultimately contribute to improving care for patients who urgently need it.”

“Designed to work in partnership with Rare Cancers Europe, RCA will build bridges between Asia and Europe, and be of help to both rare cancer patient communities.

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“By furthering our global understanding of these diseases and allowing best practices to be shared more widely across both regions, Rare Cancers Asia will ultimately contribute to improving care for patients who urgently need it.”

Under the new RCA initiative, a clinical-pathologic web sarcoma platform will be created to enable sharing of clinical cases between Asian sarcoma reference centres and the institutions associated with the corresponding domain of EURACAN.

The project aims to harmonise diagnosis and clinical practices in this group of rare cancers.

RCA will also work on two more collaborative projects, one of which will be an epidemiological study to estimate the incidence of rare cancers and compare it among selected nations in Asia, as well as between Asia and Europe.

The project is aimed at developing ‘RARECAREnet-Asia’ on the lines of RARECAREnet, the European information network on rare cancers, to improve the quality of data on these diseases in the Asia-Pacific region.

The initiative will also carry out an epidemiological and translational research project on nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) to study the striking epidemiological characteristics of this disease.

The scope of the project also includes improved treatment options for the disease based on tumour biology.