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Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Newly Diagnosed Carcinoma of Unknown Primary


Melanoma (Melanotic or Amelanotic) Occurring in a Single Nodal Site

Approximately 5% of patients present with no detectable primary site.

Treatment option:

  • Radical lymph node dissection. For patients who present with a single site of nodal metastasis, this treatment will yield a survival that is slightly better than that obtained in conventional stage II melanoma.

Multiple Involvement

When patients present with widespread metastatic disease and special studies reveal a probable primary tumor for which standard systemic therapy is available, such therapy should be administered. This may include hormonal therapy for prostate and breast cancer, I131 for thyroid cancer, or cytotoxic single-agent or combination chemotherapy for hormone-refractory breast and ovarian cancers. Standard approaches for such diseases are available in the specific PDQ summaries for each diagnosis.

The majority of patients will not have a definable primary source. For such patients, a variety of combination chemotherapy approaches have been tried with little success. No treatment can be considered standard at present. Therefore, such patients should be considered for available clinical trials. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with newly diagnosed carcinoma of unknown primary. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


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  14. Dalrymple JC, Bannatyne P, Russell P, et al.: Extraovarian peritoneal serous papillary carcinoma. A clinicopathologic study of 31 cases. Cancer 64 (1): 110-5, 1989.
  15. Merson M, Andreola S, Galimberti V, et al.: Breast carcinoma presenting as axillary metastases without evidence of a primary tumor. Cancer 70 (2): 504-8, 1992.
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This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: 8/, 015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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