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Chemotherapy for cancer of unknown primary (CUP)

Men and woman discussing unknown primary cancer

This page tells you about chemotherapy for cancer of unknown primary. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Chemotherapy for cancer of unknown primary (CUP)

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. You may have chemotherapy as treatment for CUP.

You can have chemotherapy as an outpatient, but you may need to stay in hospital for a short time. This depends on the particular chemotherapy drugs you have as well as your general health.

Chemotherapy may involve having a number of different drugs given in combination. These drugs are usually given in cycles, which consist of a treatment period followed by a recovery period. Then you will have another treatment period and so on.

Cancer drugs affect people in different ways. People can have different side effects with the same drug. You can find information about cancer drug side effects in our treatment section.

 

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

 

 

What chemotherapy is

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. They work by disrupting the growth of cancer cells. As they circulate in the blood, they can reach cancer cells in many parts of the body.

 

Chemotherapy for cancer of unknown primary (CUP)

Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy as treatment for CUP. You can have chemotherapy as an outpatient, but you may have a short stay in hospital. This will depend on the particular chemotherapy drugs you have as well as your general health.

Chemotherapy for CUP may involve having a number of different drugs given in combination. These drugs are usually given in cycles, which consist of a treatment period followed by a recovery period. Then you will have another treatment period and so on.

Drugs affect people in different ways. Not all patients have the same side effects with the same drug. Some people have very few side effects at all. It is not possible to tell how you will react until you have had that particular drug.

We cannot tell you which chemotherapy drugs you are likely to have because the range of combinations is so large.

Your doctor will choose a combination of drugs that they think will suit you best. The choice will depend on the results of your blood tests and scans. And on your general well being and fitness. Once you know which drugs you will have, you can look at our section about cancer drugs. There is detailed information about the specific side effects of each drug.

There is information about research into chemotherapy and biological therapies in the section about cancer of unknown primary research.

 

Dietary or herbal supplements and chemotherapy

We don't yet know much scientifically about how some nutritional or herbal supplements may interact with chemotherapy. Some could be harmful. It is very important to let your doctors know if you take any supplements. Or if you are prescribed them by alternative or complementary therapy practitioners.

Talk to your specialist about any other tablets or medicines you take while you are having active treatment. There is information about the safety of herbal, vitamin and diet supplements in our complementary therapies section.

Some studies seem to suggest that fish oil preparations may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs. If you are taking or thinking of taking these supplements talk to your doctor to find out whether they could affect your treatment.

 

More information on chemotherapy

For more information about chemotherapy, look at the main chemotherapy section. It explains the treatment in detail including

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Updated: 24 July 2014