Rare cancers like cancers of the gum, lips, gallbladder, vagina and rectum have become more common in Vietnam in the last decade, according to doctors.

Dr Vu Van Vu of the Ho Chi Minh City's Oncology Hospital said that 1,100 patients are treated annually for oral cancers of the gums and lips, with the latter accounting for 21.2 percent.

Since 2005, the hospital has treated 79 patients suffering from gum cancer since 2005, most of them around the age of 43.

If treated early, nearly 90 percent of the people survive.

In the last 20 years, the hospital has also admitted and treated 162 patients with vaginal cancer.

In addition, many patients had been hospitalised due to gallbladder cancer, Professor Van Tan of Binh Dan Hospital said.

Since June 2006, he and his colleagues have performed surgery on 7,456 patients with cholecystitis, inflammation of the gallbladder.

Eighty patients were found to suffer from gallbladder cancer, most of them aged about 55.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, 700 people in Vietnam have gallbladder cancer.

An average of 7,400 patients had been diagnosed with rectal cancer every year, Tan said.

Most of them were hospitalised during the late phase of the disease because they had been trying to treat themselves.

The symptoms of some cancers are often not clear, leading to misunderstanding and late diagnosis.

Patients with cholecystitis were often diagnosed with hepatitis, which has similar symptoms.

Patients went to drugstores to buy medicine without going to hospitals for check-ups. Doctors have advised patients to seek medical help before self-treating unusual symptoms./.