Cancers are named based on where they start in the body. However, it is not always possible to determine
this and some cancers are only detected by the secondary tumours that have spread from the primary site.
Cancer of unknown primary (CUP) is the name given to this type of cancer. It is responsible for over 10,000
deaths in the UK a year. By the time cancer is diagnosed, it is often quite advanced and very difficult to
treat. Better diagnostic tools and treatment for CUP are desperately needed to help improve survival.
Research supported by Cancer Research UK and which has received donations from the Jet Harris Memorial
Fund has included projects led by Dr Harpreet Wasan and his team at Imperial College London. The first
project was designed to show whether a new combination of chemotherapy drugs could improve survival
for patients with CUP and to help design future trials to test whether it should be a standard treatment.
The second project is focusing on the molecular classification of CUPs - currently testing samples from CUP
to see if it’s possible to find out where each tumour started. General areas of research into CUP are also
Further information about cancer of unknown primary can be found on the Cancer Research UK website www.cancerresearchuk.org
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