How is carcinoma of unknown primary (CUP) treated?

How is carcinoma of unknown primary (CUP) treated?

Since there’s no staging for carcinoma of unknown primary (CUP) because it has already spread and the primary cancer site may not be known, your healthcare provider plans treatment based on what is known and what is thought to be the most likely type of cancer.

Your healthcare team will consider where the cancer was found in your body, what type of original cells the cancer cells look like, how abnormal the cells look and your test results.

Treatments usually considered include:

  • Surgery: Your surgeon will remove the cancer along with a little healthy tissue surrounding it. This approach is used if your cancer is thought to be limited to one area. Radiation or chemotherapy may follow to kill any remaining cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapyRadiation may be external (beams of radiation targeted on the cancer) or internal (radioactive seeds, wires, needles or catheters placed in or near the cancer). Radiation therapy is used if cancer is thought to be limited to one area.
  • Chemotherapy: This is a drug treatment that either kills cancer cells or stops their growth. One or more drugs can be given by IV or taken by mouth or placed directly into an area of your body. Chemotherapy is recommended if cancer is thought to be in more than one area.
  • Hormone therapy: Some hormones can cause some cancers to grow. Hormone therapy means using drugs, surgery or radiation to block the action of hormones to prevent cancer from growing and spreading.
  • Targeted therapy: This approach uses drugs or substances to attack cancer cells while not harming nearby healthy cells. Some of these products are used to treat specific types of cancers but may help treat some cases of CUP if the type of cancer cell is known.

Your healthcare providers will also provide pain relief and other treatments to manage your symptoms.

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