The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


Leeds Cancer Centre

Conditions and treatments


Cancer of unknown primary (CUP) means that although cancer has been detected it has not been possible to detect exactly where it has come from (called the primary site) despite many tests.

When this happen the CUP multi-disciplinary team (MDT) will be able to determine the best course of action based on the information provided from the tests and investigations and this may include being referred to another cancer MDT.

Often, following a biopsy, the pathologist (a doctor who examines cells under a microscope) will be able to say what type of abnormal cell it is but not where it has originated from.

Most commonly CUP can be made up of five different types of abnormal cell and can include:

  • adenocarcinoma;
  • squamous cell carcinoma;
  • neuroendocrine carcinoma;
  • poorly differentiated carcinoma;
  • undifferentiated cancer.

Given this information the CUP MDT will be able to discuss the best course of action and this may include:

Please click on the links to provide more information about each treatment.

After seeing the CUP team follow up is always tailored to each individual patient. The CUP nurse specialist team can be contacted on 0113 2068881 or e-mail leedsth-tr.AcuteOncology@nhs.net for any queries.