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Tumor of Unknown Primary Site 

Tumor of Unknown Primary Site
Tumor of Unknown Primary Site
Psycho-Oncology (3 ed.)

Anna M. Varghese

and Leonard B. Saltz


The term “cancer of unknown primary” (CUP) represents a diverse group of diseases that account for approximately 2% of cancer diagnoses. Oncologic management of CUP consists of the following: (1) reasonable attempts to establish the CUP diagnosis with age-appropriate and symptom-directed testing; (2) a search for alternative diagnoses with better prognoses; and (3) attempts to identify factors that would establish the patient as a member of a more treatable subgroup of unknown primary cancer. While most patients with new diagnoses of cancer struggle with anxiety and uncertainty surrounding their diagnoses, psycho-oncologists must acknowledge that patients with CUP contend with even higher levels of uncertainty. Also, since an unknown primary cancer is by definition metastatic at the time of initial diagnosis, issues reflective of the advanced stage of disease must be confronted early in the patient’s adjustment to the illness.

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