There are so many career paths to chose from in the medical area and it can be hard to decide which path to follow. A rare disease is classed as a disease that affects up to 30,000 people but most affect many fewer than this. With an estimated 3.5 million affected by rare diseases in the U.K alone, maybe a career in rare diseases could be the direction to take.
Why work with rare diseases?
3.5 million sounds like a lot (17% of the the UK population to be exact) for something that is meant to be rare, but this is because there is nearly 8,000 rare diseases. With another 5 described in medical literature nearly every week, the list is only growing.
50% of the new rare diseases discovered and diagnosed will affect children, often leading to a shorter life of poorer quality. But with the help of professionals in the field of rare diseases, the people affected can lead full and happy lives and may even be cured one day.
Who can work in rare diseases?
At first it may seem that this would only be a career path for scientists and doctors but this is wrong. While those in the scientific field are needed to find cures, and doctors are needed to identify the diseases, there are many other roles. As with any illness, nurses are needed to care for the patients who suffer with these diseases and apply treatment in a hospital or at home. Care assistants are needed to help those with the more severe diseases to try to lead a more normal life.
Examples of rare diseases
Mesothelioma is a cancer that can affect the thin lining of nearly all your internal organs called the mesothelium but it mostly affects the lung and chest area. 80% of rare diseases have a genetic component but most cases of mesothelioma are asbestos related which is why Mesothelioma Day was created on the 26th of September 2004 and continues to this day to raise awareness and funding for those affected.
Fibrosarcoma is a tumour found in fibrous bone tissue and is often very hard to tell apart from other tumours of a similar nature. Almost all cases of fibrosarcoma are due to a genetic fault.
Just mesothelioma and fibrosarcoma combined affects approximately 8,700 people, most of whom do not have appropriate access to care due to the rarity of theses diseases. Having a career in rare diseases could help cure these diseases or help those already feeling the effects of them on their lives.
Find out more about mesothelium HERE