Survival rates for cancer of unknown primary
Some people with cancer may want to know the survival rates for their type of cancer. Others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. Whether or not you want to read about survival rates is up to you.
Since cancer of unknown primary (CUP) includes many different cancer types, it is hard to provide useful survival statistics for these cancers as a group. For all types of CUP, the average survival time is about 9 to 12 months after the cancer is found. But this can vary a lot. Here are some reasons why this cancer is so serious:
- Most of these are fast-spreading cancers.
- Because the exact type is not known, it is harder for doctors to know what treatment is best.
- The cancer is often widespread when it is found, making it harder to cure.
Certain CUPs may have a better expected survival. For instance, some women may have a stage III or IV ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer. If treated like advanced ovarian cancer, these women could expect to have the same survival as those cancers. The relative 5-year survival for stage III ovarian cancer is 34% (for more information, see “Survival by ovarian cancer stage” in our document Ovarian Cancer).
While these numbers provide an overall picture, keep in mind that every person is unique and the statistics can’t predict exactly what will happen in your case. Talk with your cancer care team if you have questions about your own chances of a cure, or how long you might survive your cancer. They know your situation best.
Last Medical Review: 03/27/2013
Last Revised: 03/27/2013