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Stages of Carcinoma of Unknown Primary

There is no staging system for carcinoma of unknown primary (CUP).

The extent or spread of cancer is usually described as stages. The stage of the cancer is usually used to plan treatment. However, CUP has already spread to other parts of the body when it is found.

The information that is known about the cancer is used to plan treatment.

Doctors use the following types of information to plan treatment:

  • The place in the body where the cancer is found, such as the peritoneum or the cervical (neck), axillary (armpit), or inguinal (groin) lymph nodes.
  • The type of cancer cell, such as melanoma.
  • Whether the cancer cell is poorly differentiated (looks very different from normal cells when viewed under a microscope).
  • The signs and symptoms caused by the cancer.
  • The results of tests and procedures.
  • Whether the cancer is newly diagnosed or has recurred (come back).
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Navigating Care disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. This information was sourced and adapted from Adapted from the National Cancer Institute's Physician Data Query (PDQ®) Cancer Information Summaries on

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