We often examine you and do tests to try and find out where the cancer started. Sometimes we will do a biopsy which is where we take a bit of the cancer out and look at it with a microscope. This is normally done as a day case.
If the primary cancer cannot be found after these tests we say this is a cancer of unknown primary (CUP). Although we may not be able to tell you where your cancer started we can learn enough about your cancer from these tests. This means we are still able to talk to you about what this means for you, how best to manage your cancer and any possible treatment options.
Sometimes we need to have more information and we might arrange for you to have more tests. We will make sure this is the right thing for you. It can take a few days or up to a few weeks for test results to be ready. We know that waiting for results can be a worrying time so we will let you know as soon as results are available.
We will meet again in clinic once we have all the information to discuss with you the best way to manage your cancer and your symptoms.
Chemo or radiotherapy?
Depending on the type of cancer and your general health we may talk to you about chemotherapy (cancer drug treatment) or radiotherapy (X-ray treatment) to try to slow down the cancer growth or to help you feel better. We will give you information about the possible benefits and downsides of any treatment and will talk to you about possible side effects. You should take time to decide if these treatments are the right choice for you.
Best supportive care
Sometimes we do not think that chemotherapy or radiotherapy will help you. Instead, Best Supportive Care focuses on quality of life and aims to help you live as well and as comfortable as possible, rather than curing the cancer. Best Supportive Care can:
- Help with symptoms such as breathlessness, pain, sickness or problems eating
- Help you and the people you care about come to terms with the diagnosis and what it means
- Help you talk about the future and plan ahead. This can be hard to do but can help you feel more prepared and in control
- Support you to manage at home
Best Supportive Care is usually provided by a combination of people, including: GPs and District Nurses, Cancer Specialist Nurses and Specialist Palliative Care.
We may also talk to you about any relevant clinical trials or research projects.