What is Unknown Primary Cancer?

Unknown primary cancer is actually a general term when cancer has been found but the doctors do not know where it has originated from, which is known as the primary. It usually affects between three and four percent of cases and after a quick examination of the area the primary is usually located. However in some cases the primary cancer cannot be found simply because it is either too small to be seen on a scan or the immune system has already destroyed it.

The cancer varies from case to case depending on where the primary was and the treatment also varies as a result. It is crucial for the doctor to attempt to locate the primary as finding what is in affect an offshoot of it means that the cancer is spreading.

The symptoms for this type of cancer also vary from person to person depending on where it is in the body, swelling, breathlessness even weight loss can be symptoms although they could be symptoms of anything else too. It is important that the doctor is informed of any symptoms you have or have had so that an assessment can be properly made.

Typically a biopsy of the affected area is taken as well as draining fluid from the area to try to assess where the cancer has spread from and hopefully eliminate the primary. Unfortunately if the primary is not found then the cancer cannot be cured as it may be part of a larger problem, an analysis of the cells in the cancer may reveal the likely origin of the cancer and then a treatment can be made on that basis. Although usually due to the nature of the cancer itself it is usually best to use radiation therapy and hormonal therapy to control the cancer until the primary can be located.

Filed Under: Unknown Primary Cancer

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