Surgery for CUP

Surgery is not normally used to treat CUP. But occasionally, an operation may be suggested to remove the cancer when there is only one area of secondary cancer.

You need to be well enough to cope with surgery.

If surgery is an option for you, your cancer specialist will discuss this with you.

Surgery may be used to:

  • remove cancer that has not spread further than a group of lymph nodes, such as in the groin, neck or armpit
  • remove a small secondary cancer in the brain, liver or lung
  • relieve symptoms, such as a blockage that is caused by the cancer.

After surgery, you may have another treatment such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy, to treat any cancer cells that may be left behind.

If you are having surgery to remove lymph nodes and are being treated for a particular primary cancer, information about that type of cancer may be helpful.

Back to Treating

Decisions about treatment

Your doctors may tell you there are different options for your treatment. Having the right information will help you make the right decision for you.


Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. It is the most commonly used treatment for CUP.


Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. It aims to treat cancer or relieve symptoms.

Controlling the symptoms of CUP

Treating symptoms of CUP is called supportive care or palliative care. You may have this on its own without cancer treatments.

Clinical trials

Some people are offered a trial as part of treatment. Find out more to help you decide if a trial is right for you.