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.
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:
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
Surgery is a common treatment for many types of cancer if they are found at an early stage. But because cancer of unknown primary (CUP) has already spread beyond the site where it started, surgery is less likely to be helpful.
Surgery may be an option if the cancer is found only in the lymph nodes or in one organ, where the surgeon may be able to remove it all. However, there’s still a chance that the cancer may be elsewhere in the body. If you are considering surgery as a treatment option, it’s important to understand how likely it is to help you.
The type and extent of surgery will depend on where the cancer is and how extensive it is. If surgery is used, it may be followed by radiation therapy and possibly chemotherapy to try to kill any remaining cancer cells in the body.
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].
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.
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.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Occult Primary. v.1.2018. Accessed at https://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/occult.pdf on February 9, 2018.
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’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA. Elsevier: 2014:1792-1803.
Last Revised: March 9, 2018
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