Find out about survival for cancer of unknown primary.
Survival depends on many different factors. It depends on your individual condition, type of cancer, treatment and level of fitness. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live.
These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. Remember, they can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.
Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis).
Survival for cancer of unknown primary
There are no UK-wide survival statistics for cancer of unknown primary.
Survival statistics are available for people with cancer of unknown primary in the South East of England. These figures are for men and women diagnosed between 1991 and 2006.
Generally for all those with cancer of unknown primary
- around 15 out of 100 people (around 15%) survive for 1 year or more
- almost 10 out of 100 people (almost 10%) survive for 5 years or more
Statistics provided by Thames Cancer Registry
Diagnosis and management of metastatic malignant disease of unknown primary origin (Full Guideline)
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, July 2010
What affects survival
Your outlook depends on several factors. It is best to talk to your own specialist. They should be able to give you a broad idea about your outlook. Even then, it is very difficult for your specialist to be accurate.
A small number of people with unknown primary cancer have factors that might mean they have a better outlook. These factors help your doctor decide what treatment is best for you. They include having:
- cancer cells in the lymph nodes in your neck, suggesting the primary cancer is a head and neck squamous cell cancer
- features that suggest you have a germ cell tumour (such as a testicular cancer)
- features that suggest you have a neuroendocrine carcinoma
Other factors that affect your outlook include how well your cancer responds to the treatment, how widespread your cancer is, and your general health and level of fitness.
About these statistics
The term 5 year survival doesn't mean you will only live for 5 years. It relates to the number of people who live 5 years or more after their diagnosis of cancer.
More detailed statistics
You can read other statistics about cancer of unknown primary in our Cancer Statistics section.