Occult primary cancer: Clinical practice guidelines Review uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Neoplasms, Unknown Primary


  • Occult primary tumors, or cancers of unknown primary site, account for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cancers. These tumors are manifested by a wide variety of clinical presentations, and for most patients, the disease is incurable. Multiple sites of involvement are shown in more than 50% of patients with occult primary tumors. Common sites of involvement are the liver, lungs, bones, and lymph nodes. Life expectancy is very short, with a median survival of about 6 to 9 months. Given the uncertainties and the generally poor prognosis, patients frequently experience significant psychosocial distress, and empathetic discussion about the natural history of these types of cancers and their prognosis is required. Patient and family education, support, and counseling by the primary oncology team and referral to specialized psychosocial services may help to alleviate this distress. © Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

publication date

  • March 2005



  • Review



  • eng

PubMed ID

  • 19817031

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 214

end page

  • 33


  • 3


  • 2