Unknown Primary: After Treatment

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about your medical care after cancer treatment is finished and why this follow-up care is important. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

After treatment for CUP ends, talk with your doctor about developing a follow-up care plan. This plan may include regular physical examinations and/or medical tests to monitor your recovery for the coming months and years. ASCO offers cancer treatment summary forms to help keep track of the cancer treatment you received and develop a survivorship care plan once treatment is completed.

Since patients with CUP are a diverse group of people and recommended treatments vary, the possible short-term and long-term effects of treatment are different. In addition, recommended follow-up and long-term prognosis varies from person to person. Recommendations in this section are directed primarily to patients who are in remission after successful treatment.

For patients in specific, treatable subgroups (see the Treatment Options section) who receive treatment following guidelines for various cancers of a known primary site, the side effects and post-treatment recommendations are similar to that specific cancer. Please refer to the specific cancer type section for more information.

For patients who receive chemotherapy and experience remission, treatment is usually stopped after four to six months. Most of the treatment-related side effects, such as low blood counts, fatigue, weakness, and joint aches, go away within four to six weeks after treatment. However, other possible side effects like peripheral neuropathy, which is numbness or discomfort in the hands and feet, improve slowly and may take six to 12 months to go away.

Close follow-up care is recommended during the first year after treatment ends, with physical examinations and routine laboratory tests every two months and appropriate x-rays/scans every three to four months. People who were treated for CUP should tell their doctor about any new symptoms right away. Talk with your doctor during your follow-up care appointments about specific symptoms to watch for.

People recovering from CUP are encouraged to follow established guidelines for good health, such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol, eating a balanced diet, and having recommended cancer screening tests. Talk with your doctor to develop a plan that is best for your needs. Moderate physical activity can help you rebuild your strength and energy level. Your doctor can help you create an appropriate exercise plan based upon your needs, physical abilities, and fitness level. Learn more about the next steps to take in survivorship, including making positive lifestyle changes.

The next section offers a list of questions you may want to ask. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Questions to Ask the Doctor, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.