Cancer of unknown primary/malignancy of unknown origin


Cancer of unknown primary (CUP) means that cancer spread has been found in your body (secondary cancer), but your doctors can't find where the cancer started (the primary cancer). This is initially known as a malignancy of unknown origin (MUO). If further tests still do not reveal the primary cancer, it will be diagnosed as a confirmed cancer of unknown primary (CUP).

Even if your doctors can’t be sure of the primary cancer, they might be able to suggest the most likely part of the body where the cancer started. This will help them to plan your treatment.

We provide the best possible care for patients who are diagnosed with cancer of unknown primary. We provide support, information, counselling and education to you and your relatives and carers throughout treatment.

A cancer diagnosis has a great impact on patients and carers, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. We aim to provide the highest possible standard of care for all our patients at every stage in their pathway.

More on what we do

People are often referred to the nurse-led team at the clinic by their GP. Once here, you'll be assessed by specialist staff who will then talk to you about your treatment options to help ease your symptoms. They can also tell you what tests or scans you might need to investigate the problem further.


Knowing where your cancer started helps doctors to decide the best types of treatment to use for your secondary cancer.  With cancer of unknown primary, it can be difficult to know what the best treatment might be.  However, treatment can be offered to help control any symptoms you might have.

Our team

Consultant oncologists:

  • Dr Anne McCormack
  • Dr Chris Hamilton

Clinical Nurse Specialists:

  • Colette Newcombe
  • Sally Harris
  • Katie Lambe
  • Hayley Reed

Where to find us

RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW

Helpful websites

Supporting you

FORCE Cancer Charity works locally to support anyone affected by cancer and will work closely with the people involved in your treatment. Find out more about the support FORCE can offer at


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