What`s new in cancer of unknown primary research?
Research into the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer is being done at many cancer research centers. Scientists are making progress in learning how changes in a person’s DNA can cause normal cells to change into cancer. This may lead to better ways of finding and treating cancers of unknown primary (CUPs).
It is very important for doctors to find the place where a CUP started so that the best treatments can be used. Lab tests can be very helpful, but they are not yet able to tell where all CUPs have started. Newer lab tests will help to better classify CUP and predict a patient’s outlook and response to treatment.
We hope that in the future the number of CUPs will drop as doctors will be able to test tumor samples and find out what types of cancer they are.
Because CUP can be a number of different types of cancer, a single treatment breakthrough will most likely not work for all people with CUP. Still, progress in treating some of the more common types of cancer is likely to help people with CUP, too.
Some newer drugs called targeted therapies are being studied. These drugs have more focused effects than chemotherapy (chemo). Some of these, such as bevacizumab (Avastin®) and erlotinib (Tarceva®), are used to treat other cancers and have shown some activity in CUP. Clinical trials are going on to try to find out who may be helped by targeted drugs and what drugs and combinations are best.
Some clinical trials are testing new chemo drugs, new drug combinations, and new ways to give these drugs. Other clinical trials are looking at new methods of treatment, such as biologic therapy, immunotherapy, and gene therapy.
Because CUP includes many different types of cancer, progress is likely to depend on progress in understanding the basis of all cancers.
Last Medical Review: 03/27/2013
Last Revised: 03/27/2013