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Unknown primary tumours
  1. H F P Hillen
  1. Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Maastricht, P O Box 5800, 6202 AZ Maastricht, The Netherlands
  1. Dr Hillen (hhi{at}


Unknown primary tumours (UPTs) are defined by the absence of a primary tumour in biopsy proved metastatic cancer. These tumours have a specific biology with clinical characteristics of rapid progression and random atypical metastases. Cytogenetic abnormalities have been demonstrated, particularly deletion of chromosome 1p. Diagnostic evaluation that includes pathology review, physical examination, chest radiography, computed tomography of the abdomen, and mammography is directed at the identification of treatable subsets. Based on clinicopathological criteria, therapy responsive subsets of patients with UPTs can be defined. These subsets have a better prognosis than the average median survival time of four months in patients with UPTs.

  • unknown primary tumours
  • metastases
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