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Commissioner

Markos Kyprianou

Presidency of the European Union

Austria 2006 - Presidency of the European Union

Rare Diseases

Rare Diseases

A rare disease is an illness affecting only a very small part of the population. Within the Community, a disease is considered as rare when it affects less then 5 persons per 10 000. Although the diseases may be rare, the number of patients suffering from them may be high as 7 000 rare diseases have been recorded to date. Most of them are caused by genetic defects. Signs may already be observed at birth or in childhood. However, more than 50% of rare diseases appear during adulthood, and are often life-threatening or chronically debilitating. There is no effective treatment for most of them, but suitable care can improve quality of life and increase life expectancy.