Coping with cancer of unknown primary (CUP) | Cancer Research UK
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Coping with cancer of unknown primary (CUP)

It can be very difficult coping with a diagnosis of cancer, both practically and emotionally. You are likely to be feeling very upset and confused at first.

It may be particularly difficult to cope with a diagnosis of CUP. Some people say they feel they are fighting an invisible enemy. You also have to come to terms with the fact that your cancer is very unlikely to be cured. No one can say how long your treatment will keep it under control. That in itself can be very hard to deal with. Your doctor will be able to tell you more as time goes on.

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of cancer brings, you have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. Who do you tell that you have cancer? And how do you find the words? There may be children to consider.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Living with CUP section.

 

 

Coping with your diagnosis

It can be very difficult coping with a diagnosis of cancer both practically and emotionally. At first, you are likely to feel very upset, frightened and confused. Or that things are out of your control. You may feel strongly that you need to know why this has happened to you. Unfortunately, doctors cannot tell why one person gets cancer and another doesn’t.

It may be particularly difficult to cope with a diagnosis of a cancer of unknown primary (CUP). Some people say they feel they are fighting an invisible enemy. You also have to come to terms with the fact that your cancer is very unlikely to be cured. No one can say how long your treatment will keep it under control. That in itself can be very hard to deal with. At first, you may not know whether you are likely to live for months or years. Your doctor will be able to tell you more as time goes on.

Often with CUP, the doctor learns more about the cancer by the way it behaves and responds to the treatments you have. This may help them to give you a clearer idea of the outlook.

 

How cancer of unknown primary (CUP) can affect you physically

CUP and its treatment may cause physical changes in your body. These changes depend on where in the body the cancer is. They can be very difficult to cope with and may affect the way you feel about yourself. Some body changes may affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends.

Another problem you may have to cope with is feeling very tired and lethargic a lot of the time, especially for a while after treatment. There is information about fatigue and cancer in the section about coping physically with cancer.

If you are having a sexual relationship, one or all of these changes may affect your sex life. There is information about how cancer can affect your sex life in our coping with cancer section.

 

Coping practically with cancer of unknown primary (CUP)

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of CUP brings, you may also have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. You may need information about financial support, such as benefits, sick pay and grants. Who do you tell that you have cancer? And how do you find the words? You may also have children to think about. We have information about talking to people about your cancer and how and what to tell children.

Just try to remember that you do not have to sort everything out at once. It may take some time to deal with each issue. Do ask for help if you need it though. It is likely that your doctor or specialist nurse will know who you can contact to get some help – they can put you in touch with people specially trained in supporting those with cancer. These people are there to help and want you to feel that you have support. So use them if you feel you need to.

You may need to have access to support staff, such as physiotherapists and dieticians. Social workers can help you with information about your entitlement to sick pay and benefits. They may also be able to help you with arranging any adaptations to your home that you may need. If you live alone, a social worker may be able to help by organising convalescence when you first come out of hospital.

 

Coping with cancer of unknown primary (CUP)

Our coping with cancer section has lots of helpful information. There are sections about

If you would like more detailed information about coping with CUP, contact one of the organisations on our cancer of unknown primary cancer organisations list. They will be happy to help. They often have free factsheets and booklets they can send to you. They may also be able to put you in touch with a support group. You can find details of helpful books and leaflets on our general cancer reading list.

You can also contact our cancer information nurses. They would be happy to help.

Check out Cancer Chat – Cancer Research UK's discussion forum. It is a place for anyone affected by cancer to share experiences, stories and information with other people who know what you are going through.

You can also find details of counselling organisations, that can tell you more about counselling and help you find sources of emotional support in your area.

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Updated: 4 August 2014