Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides information and answers for people dealing with cancer. We can connect you with trained cancer information specialists who will answer questions about a cancer diagnosis and provide guidance and a compassionate ear.
Chat live online
Select the Live Chat button at the bottom of the page
Our highly trained specialists are available 24/7 via phone and on weekdays can assist through video calls and online chat. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with essential services and resources at every step of their cancer journey. Ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
Referrals to patient-related programs or resources
Donations, website, or event-related assistance
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
Cancers of unknown primary (CUP) have always spread outside the organ they started in by the time they are diagnosed. If they had been found early, we would know where they started and they would not be classified as a cancer of unknown primary.
The American Cancer Society has specific recommendations about tests that may help detectbreast,prostate, cervical,and colorectal cancers early, before they cause any symptoms.
But these cancers account for a fairly small portion of cancers of unknown primary. No screening tests have been proven to be effective in the early detection of many of the cancers that are likely to be diagnosed as cancer of unknown primary, such as pancreatic, stomach, and kidney cancers.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Bochtler T, Löffler H, Krämer A. Diagnosis and management of metastatic neoplasms with unknown primary. Semin Diagn Pathol. 2017 Nov;26(pii). doi: 10.1053/j.semdp.2017.11.013. [Epub ahead of print].
Crawford SM, Skinner J, Coombes E, Jones AP. Cancer of unknown primary: A cancer registry Study of factors affecting access to diagnosis. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2017 Jan;29(1):e39-e46. doi: 10.1016/j.clon.2016.09.011.
Greco FA, Hainsworth JD. Carcinoma of Unknown Primary In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2015: 1719-1736.
Søndergaard D, Nielsen S, Pedersen CNS, Besenbacher S. Prediction of primary tumors in cancers of unknown primary. J Integr Bioinform. 2017 Jul;14(2):pii. doi: 10.1515/jib-2017-0013.
Tomuleasa C, Zaharie F, Muresan MS, Pop L, Fekete Z, Dima D, Frinc I, Trifa A, Berce C, Jurj A, Berindan-Neagoe I, Zdrenghea M. How to diagnose and treat a cancer of unknown primary site. J Gastrointestin Liver Dis. 2017 Mar;26(1):69-79. doi: 10.15403/jgld.2014.1121.261.haz.
Varadhachary GR, Lenzi R, Raber MN, Abbruzzese JL. Carcinoma of Unknown Primary In: Neiderhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’sClinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA. Elsevier: 2014:1792-1803.
Last Revised: March 9, 2018
American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.
Our lifesaving work is made possible thanks to generous supporters like you.
Donate now so we can continue to provide access to critical cancer information, resources, and support to improve lives of people with cancer and their families.