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  • Rona Newton-John (1943 - 2013)
    Height 5' 4" (1.63 m) Mini Biography Rona Newton-John is a British actress who was born in Cambridge, England. She was a model in her early years and had many small acting roles - notably on "The Ben...
  • Wilford Eugene Carnes (1933 - 2006)
    Find a Grave
  • Isaura D.Gouveia (1920 - 1998)
    Por incrível que pareça, não possuo óbito nem nascimento de minha mãe. Ela nasceu na cidade de Cravinhos, SP, a qual ainda não possui todos os registros digitalizados no Family Search e, quanto ao óbit...
  • Nell Belle Herring (1901 - 1978)
  • Grace Regina Beck (1920 - 1989)
    Birth: Aug. 17, 1920 Rice Lake Barron County Wisconsin, USA Death: Mar. 19, 1989 Orland Park Cook County Illinois, USA The silent tears that each must shed. Like rain upon the ground. Will nourish al...

This project is for people who died from Cancer Not Otherwise Specified (i.e. "died of cancer") OR the Primary site is unknown.

If you know the origin / site of the cancer, please add the person to THAT project.

Carcinoma of Unknown Primary (CUP) is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the body but the place the cancer began is not known.

Cancers are named based on their primary site, regardless of where in the body they spread. For example, a lung cancer that spreads to the liver is still classified as lung cancer and not as liver cancer. People with CUP have been diagnosed with some form of metastatic cancer – a cancer that has spread from somewhere else in the body – but the primary cancer cannot be located, even after thorough testing.

General Information About Carcinoma of Unknown Primary

Carcinoma of unknown primary (CUP) is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the body but the place the cancer began is not known.

  • * The primary cancer (the cancer that first formed) can spread to other parts of the body, called metastasis.
    • Cancer cells usually look like the cells in the type of tissue in which the cancer began.
      • For example, breast cancer cells may spread to the lung. Because the cancer began in the breast, the cancer cells in the lung look like breast cancer cells.
    • It is important to the course of treatment to know the cancer’s primary site, as the treatment needed will be the same when it spreads to other sites.
  • Sometimes the primary cancer is never found.
    • The primary cancer is very small and grows slowly.
      • A secondary cancer has grown very quickly, while the primary cancer is still very small & not seen on scans.
    • The body’s immune system killed the primary cancer, while the secondary cancer is still growing (not common).
    • The primary cancer was removed during surgery for another condition and doctors didn’t know cancer had formed.
      • For example, a uterus with cancer may be removed during a hysterectomy to treat a serious infection.
    • The primary cancer may have been sloughed off -- i.e. in the digestive system... a small cancer may become detached from the wall of the bowel and is passed out of the body with feces.
  • The signs and symptoms of CUP are different, depending on where the cancer has spread in the body.
  • Different tests are used to detect (find) cancer.
  • If tests show there may be cancer, a biopsy is done.
  • 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.
  • Tests and procedures used to find the primary cancer depend on where the cancer has spread.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery).
    • Where the cancer began in the body and where it has spread.
    • The number of organs with cancer in them.
    • The way the tumor cells look when viewed under a microscope.
    • Whether the patient is male or female.
    • Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back).
    • For most patients with CUP, current treatments do not cure the cancer.
  • A diagnosis of CUP requires a clinical picture consistent with metastatic disease and one or more biopsy results inconsistent with a primary tumor.
  • CUP is found in about 3 to 5% of all people diagnosed with invasive cancer,[2] and carries a poor prognosis in most (80 to 85%) of those circumstances. The other 15 to 20% of patients, however, have a relatively long survival with appropriate treatment.


  • The exact number of cancers of unknown primary (CUP) diagnosed each year is unknown, because some cancers start out being diagnosed as unknown primary, but the primary site is found later. Still, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 33,770 cases of cancer of unknown primary will be diagnosed in 2017 in the United States. This number represents about 2% of all cancers. As more sophisticated lab tests become available to determine where a cancer started, the number of cancers of unknown primary may go down.
  • According to the causes of death, the primary site appeared frequently to be either the organ where CUP metastases were diagnosed or an organ which may be traced through the known metastatic patterns of different cancer types.
  • CUP sometimes runs in families. It has been associated with familial lung, kidney, and colorectal cancers, which suggests that these sites may often be the origin of unidentifiable CUP cancers.
  • Around 9,800 people were diagnosed with cancer of unknown primary in the UK in 2011, and around 10,625 people died from the disease in 2012.


From 1980 to 1990, definition of unknown primary cancer was based on imaging results.[6] Subsequently, research on immunohistochemistry allowed for the classification of cancer of unknown primary into sub-types. From 2000 to 2010, tailored therapies began to evolve, targeting specific subtypes of unknown primary.

Famous People who died from Cancer of Unknown Primary Origin:

1) Wikipedia - Deaths from Cancer of Unknown Primary Origin (59 people listed) (According to the Wikipedia site for the person, many do not specify the type or site of cancer they had--it just says they "died of cancer". So it is unknown if the primary site is officially known or not, and occasionally the family preferred not to specify the site.)

For Further Reading:

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