Cancer of Unknown Primary Clinic (CUP)
More than 1300 patients in the Netherlands are diagnosed with cancer of unknown primary (CUP) every year. This cancer type is also known as an occult primary, metastases of unknown origin (MUO), metastatic malignancy of unknown origin, or metastatic cancer of unknown primary. In Dutch, we call this "Primaire Tumor Onbekend" (PTO). These people are told that they have metastases and are terminally ill, but that we cannot determine where the primary tumor is located: the origin of the cancer, or carcinoma. In most cases, this means that we will also not be able to determine the best treatment option because most cancer treatments are tied to a specific tumor type. CUP patients often already faced an uncertain, frustrating, and long diagnostic phase which did not lead to the identification of the primary tumor. The results and treatment remain uncertain.
It might be beneficial to know that the source of the carcinoma cannot always be found, not even with the most advanced diagnostic techniques. CUP is seen as its own condition because of that. At the Netherlands Cancer Institute, we have a dedicated team of experts who specialize in care for patients with CUP. We also conduct scientific research into the benefits of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) for patients with CUP, and whether this may lead to a better understanding of the best treatment option for these patients.