Treatment for cancer of unknown primary

The treatment you have depends on a number of things, including where the cancer is and your general health. A team of doctors and other professionals discuss the best treatment and care for you.

The main treatment for CUP is cancer drugs, most commonly chemotherapy. You often have a combination of 2 or 3 chemotherapy drugs. You may also have radiotherapy to help to control your symptoms and hormone therapy. 

Preparing for treatment and life afterwards (prehabilitation)

There are things you can do to help you feel more in control of your physical and mental health when preparing for treatment. In the hospital, preparing for treatment is also called prehabilitation or prehab.

Treatment options for cancer of unknown primary

Find out how your medical team decides on the treatment you need, and the types of treatment you might have for CUP.

Chemotherapy for cancer of unknown primary

Chemotherapy is one of the main treatments for cancer of unknown primary (CUP). Find out how you have it and the most common side effects.

Radiotherapy for cancer of unknown primary

Radiotherapy uses high energy rays to destroy cancer cells. You usually have radiotherapy to help control symptoms caused by cancer of unknown primary (CUP).

Hormone therapy for cancer of unknown primary

Some cancers depend on hormones to grow. Hormone therapy blocks or lowers the amount of hormones in the body. Find out what hormone therapy is, how you have it and the possible side effects.

Treatment to control symptoms of CUP

Treatment to control symptoms is also called palliative treatment or supportive care. You have palliative treatment to control symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

Follow up after treatment for CUP

After treatment for cancer of unknown primary (CUP), you might have regular follow up appointments. Or you may decide to only have appointments if you have any problems or develop a new symptom.

Last reviewed: 
24 May 2021
Next review due: 
24 May 2024
Coronavirus and cancer

We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help.

Read our information about coronavirus and cancer