Cancer of Unknown Primary 

Each year, more than 1,500 people are diagnosed with CUP (Cancer of Unknown Primary). Half of these die within a few months of their first visit to hospital. 

Right diagnosis 

CUP metastases are sometimes discovered by chance, without any prior symptoms being known. More often, however, patients visit their doctor with complaints of pain, fatigue, nausea or weight loss. A preliminary examination reveals that these complaints are caused by a yet unknown tumor. If this tumor cannot be identified, even after an extensive examination, this is known as CUP. 

Long diagnostic process 

A diagnosis of cancer is bad news in itself, but if you have CUP then you have an additional worry. If the cause is unknown, a targeted treatment cannot be provided. As a patient, you are often referred from one specialist to another, while throughout that process the metastases continue to grow. 

Accurate imaging 

There is no time to lose with these patients. The right diagnosis needs to be made as soon as possible, and this requires two steps: the first step is to create an accurate image using a high-quality CT scan or PET-CT scan. The second step is an extensive tissue analysis. 

Tissue analysis 

A tissue analysis requires a biopsy of the metastasis. If this does not produce a clear diagnosis, we can perform a complete DNA test on that tissue. Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) usually enables us to identify the primary tumor. 

But there is another important advantage of WGS: sometimes we identify mutations (changes to the hereditary material of the tumor) for which a targeted treatment is available. 

Want to know more about the complete DNA test?