Advertisement

Can I have a metastatic tumor without a primary cancer?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
No. A metastatic tumor always starts from cancer cells in another part of the body. In most cases, when a metastatic tumor is found first, the primary tumor can be found. The search for the primary tumor may involve lab tests, x-rays, and other procedures. However, in a small number of cases, a metastatic tumor is diagnosed but the primary tumor cannot be found, in spite of extensive tests. The pathologist knows the tumor is metastatic because the cells are not like those in the organ or tissue in which the tumor is found. Doctors refer to the primary tumor as unknown or occult (hidden), and the patient is said to have cancer of unknown primary origin (CUP). Because diagnostic techniques are constantly improving, the number of cases of CUP is going down.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

Continue Learning about Cancer

Cancer Survivors Live Longer with Exercise
Cancer Survivors Live Longer with Exercise
Sharks aren’t the only animals that need to keep moving forward to survive. We know people who get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise ...
Read More
How Common Is Leiomyosarcoma?
How Common Is Leiomyosarcoma?
How Can We Improve Cancer Survival Rates?
How Can We Improve Cancer Survival Rates?
Is It Possible for My Mind to Help Me Fight Cancer?
Is It Possible for My Mind to Help Me Fight Cancer?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.