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How Does My Doctor Know I Have Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Origin?

Your doctor’s first steps in diagnosing carcinoma of unknown primary origin (CUP) are to talk with you about your health history and to do a physical exam. Your doctor will ask you detailed questions to learn about your symptoms and your personal and family history. If you have any lumps, your doctor will remove a small piece of it for a biopsy to check for cancer cells.

During the physical exam, your doctor may be able to find the source of the cancer. For instance, your doctor may learn that the source of cancer is your lungs. If so, the cancer will not be called CUP anymore. Instead, it will be called and treated as a lung cancer with metastasis.

If your doctor cannot find the primary source of cancer, you may need more tests. If tests show where the cancer first occurred, the cancer will be named for that area. If the tests don’t show where the cancer started, then it is called cancer of unknown primary origin (CUP).