Skip To The Main Content

How Is Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Classified?

If your doctor still cannot find the primary site of the cancer after doing a number of different tests, you may be officially diagnosed with carcinoma of unknown primary origin (CUP). A pathologist will review the biopsy samples and classify the cancer as one of these five types:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma

  • Adenocarcinoma

  • Poorly differentiated carcinoma

  • Neuroendocrine carcinoma

  • Poorly differentiated malignant neoplasm

The pathologist's classification of the cells from the biopsy will help your doctor to determine a treatment plan, even if the original site of the cancer remains unknown. 

You may need some of these additional exams:

  • Underarm lymph node evaluation

  • Groin lymph node evaluation

  • Pelvic organ evaluation

  • Chest or abdomen evaluation

  • Evaluation of other locations

  • Test for melanoma of unknown primary origin in your neck, underarms, or groin lymph nodes

Doctors will repeat a careful physical exam and maybe some of the prior tests. They will have a second pathologist look at the biopsy samples. Sometimes, as time passes, a small hidden primary tumor may become large enough to be found. This may help the doctors reclassify the CUP.

FYH

MetroWest Medical Center provides advanced medicine and personalized care, right here in your community.

Click here to read our Community Newsletter

vip-program

Become a VIP (Very Important Patient) and get free access to a trained Personal Health Guide.

Learn More

heartvascular

The Center for Heart & Vascular Services. At the forefront of heart and vascular disease for more than 25 years.

Learn More