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Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides support 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.
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At our National Cancer Information Center trained Cancer Information Specialists can answer questions 24 hours a day, every day of the year to empower you with accurate, up-to-date information to help you make educated health decisions. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with valuable services and resources.
Or ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
Survival rates tell you what portion of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time (usually 5 years) after they were diagnosed. They can't tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding about how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.
Cancer of unknown primary (CUP) includes many different cancer types, so it’s hard to provide meaningful survival statistics for these cancers as a group. In general, these are difficult cancers for several reasons:
When all types of CUP are included, the average survival time is about 9 to 12 months after diagnosis. But this can vary widely depending on many factors, including the cancer cell type, where the cancer is found, how far the cancer has spread, a person’s general health, the treatments received, and how well the cancer responds to treatment.
Survival statistics can sometimes be useful as a general guide, but they may not accurately represent any one person’s prognosis (outlook). This is because survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they can’t predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. Your doctor is familiar with your situation; ask how these numbers may apply to you.
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
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.
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.
Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Miller D, Bishop K, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2014, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2014/, based on November 2016 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2017.
National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Cancer of Unknown Primary Treatment. 07/25/2015. Accessed at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/unknown-primary/hp/unknown-primary-treatment-pdq on February 9, 2018.
Raghav K, Mhadgut H, McQuade JL, Lei X, Ross A, Matamoros A, Wang H, Overman MJ, Varadhachary GR. Cancer of unknown primary in adolescents and young adults: Clinicopathological features, prognostic factors and survival outcomes. PLoS One. 2016 May 12;11(5):e0154985. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154985.
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’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA. Elsevier: 2014:1792-1803.
Last Revised: March 9, 2018
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