Unknown primary cancer: Support research for new diagnostic tests and treatments
Last updated: 15/03/2013
Why this research is needed
Cancers are named based on where they start in the body. However, it's not always possible to determine this, and some cancers are only detected by the secondary tumours that have spread from it.
Cancer of unknown primary (CUP) is the name given to this type of cancer, and it's responsible for over 10,000 deaths a year. By the time cancer is diagnosed, it is often quite advanced and very difficult to treat. Better diagnostic tools and treatment for CUP is desperately needed to help improve survival.
The impact of our work
This research will show whether a new combination of chemotherapy drugs can improve survival for patients with CUP, and help design future trials to test whether it should be a standard treatment. This study may also lead to new tests to find where an unknown primary cancer starts, helping doctors provide the most effective treatment earlier, giving patients the best chance of survival.
Supporting this project
Angie donatedIn memory of Tim Hallaways,... In memory of Tim Hallaways, who died on 31st October of kidney cancer. We miss you. Love Matt, Ange, James and Jenny x more
maryanne donatedDonation from kind work col... Donation from kind work colleagues. Donated in memory of Mary more
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Project update - February 2013
We've been given the opportunity to raise the fundraising target for this project, thanks to a committee who have a close personal interest in Dr Wasan's work.
We're now able to open up another area of this project for your support – testing samples from CUP to see if it's possible to find out where each tumour started.
The survival rate for cancer of unknown primary origin or CUP is so low because by the time it is diagnosed, secondary tumours have metastasised or spread in the body. The main treatment for CUP is a combination of chemotherapy drugs, which treats the whole body.
Because the primary cancer cannot be found, the treatment circulates through the bloodstream where it can then kill cancer cells wherever they are. However, as there are so few clinical trials for CUP, there is no agreement on the best combination chemotherapy drugs to use.
This is further complicated by not knowing the cancer's origin as different types of cancer respond differently to the treatment. Doctors urgently need new diagnostic tests to decipher where these cancers have started - this vital information is crucial in guiding treatment to help improve survival.
The CUP-ONE trial
Dr Wasan's clinical trial, called CUP-ONE, is testing a new chemotherapy combination for this type of cancer. Patients on this trial will be treated using three existing chemotherapy drugs: epirubicin, cisplatin and capecitabine in a combination known as ECX.
The researchers will measure how many patients respond to the ECX combination, while also monitoring any side effects. Doctors are not sure which are the best drugs to use, so the results of this trial will help to uncover if this particular combination will help people with CUP.
Better tests for CUP
Dr Wasan is also asking the people on this trial to donate a sample of their cancer tissue. His group will use these samples to help develop new, improved diagnostic tests.
Each sample will be tested for particular 'markers' - changes to genes or proteins that could be used to pinpoint where the cancer started. Dr Wasan hopes that a test like this would be able to solve the mystery of where most cases of CUP began, making it easier to identify the right treatment for each patient.
This extra focus of the research shows how clinical trials can help researchers learn about the inner workings of cancer, and bring benefits to patients today and in the future.
The difference you can make
Our groundbreaking work in clinical trials has already led to advances in preventing, detecting and treating cancer that have saved many thousands of lives.
Please donate now to support our vital work into unknown primary cancer.
Friends of Fi
Friends of Fi are a group of friends raising money to support research in to Cancer of the Unknown Primary (CUP). They are fundraising for their friend Fi who was diagnosed with CUP in September 2012 but very sadly lost her fight in March 2013.
The group said:
Cancer doesn't respect youth, lifestyle, hopes or dreams. So we are raising money through Cancer Research UK to fund research into Fi's type of cancer – CUP.
We're fundraising not only fund the research into the best treatment, but also to help raise awareness, giving its sufferers a much needed voice and greater chance for survival.
Donate now and you can help support: Unknown primary cancer: Support research for new diagnostic tests and treatments