How Is Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Classified?

If your doctor still cannot find the primary site of the cancer after doing tests you may be officially diagnosed with carcinoma of unknown primary origin (CUP). If this happens, a pathologist classifies the cancer as one of these 3 types.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma

  • Adenocarcinoma

  • Poorly differentiated malignant neoplasm

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 tests. They will have a second pathologist look at the biopsy samples. Sometimes, as time passes, a small hidden primary tumor may grow enough to be found. This may help the doctors reclassify the CUP.


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