Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Carcinoma of Unknown Primary

    continued...

    If cancer is found, one or more of the following laboratory tests may be used to study the tissue samples and find out the type of cancer:

    • Histologic study: A laboratory test in which stains are added to a sample of cancer cells or tissue and viewed under a microscope to look for certain changes in the cells. Certain changes in the cells are linked to certain types of cancer.
    • Immunohistochemistry: A test that uses antibodies to check for certain antigens in a sample of tissue. The antibody is usually linked to a radioactive substance or a dye that causes the tissue to light up under a microscope. This type of test may be used to tell the difference between different types of cancer.
    • Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test: A laboratory test in which cells in a sample of tissue are studied using chemicals to look for certain changes in the genes.
    • Cytogenetic analysis: A laboratory test in which cells in a sample of tissue are viewed under a microscope to look for certain changes in the chromosomes. Changes in certain chromosomes are linked to certain types of cancer.
    • Light and electron microscopy: A laboratory test in which cells in a sample of tissue are viewed under regular and high-powered microscopes to look for certain changes in the cells.

    When the type of cancer cells or tissue removed is different from the type of cancer cells expected to be found, a diagnosis of CUP may be made.

    The cells in the body have a certain look that depends on the type of tissue they come from. For example, a sample of cancer tissue taken from the breast is expected to be made up of breast cells. However, if the sample of tissue is a different type of cell (not made up of breast cells), it is likely that the cells have spread to the breast from another part of the body. In order to plan treatment, doctors first try to find the primary cancer (the cancer that first formed).

    Tests and procedures used to find the primary cancer depend on where the cancer has spread.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    man holding lung xray
    What you need to know.
    stem cells
    How they work for blood cancers.
     
    woman wearing pink ribbon
    Separate fact from fiction.
    Colorectal cancer cells
    Symptoms, screening tests, and more.
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article