Exploring the biological hallmarks of cancer of unknown primary: where do we stand today?

Elie Rassy, Tarek Assi, Nicholas Pavlidis
British Journal of Cancer 2020, 122 (8): 1124-1132
Cancer of unknown primary (CUP) affects a small percentage of the general population. Nonetheless, a substantial number of these patients have a poor prognosis and consequently succumb to their illness within a year of diagnosis. The natural history of CUP is characterised by early metastasis from the unknown primary site, aggressive course and resistance to conventional chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the processes by which this orphan disease originates and progresses have not been fully elucidated and its biology remain unclear. Despite the conceptual progress in genetic and molecular profiling made over the past decade, recognition of the genetic and molecular abnormalities involved in CUP, as well as the identification of the tissue of origin remain unresolved issues. This review will outline the biology of CUP by exploring the hallmarks of cancer in order to rationalise the complexities of this enigmatic syndrome. This approach will help the reader to understand where research efforts currently stand and the pitfalls of this quest.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Trending Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"

We want to hear from doctors like you!

Take a second to answer a survey question.