BMJ. 2020 Dec 7;371:m4050. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m4050.
Cancers of unknown primary (CUPs) are histologically confirmed, metastatic malignancies with a primary tumor site that is unidentifiable on the basis of standard evaluation and imaging studies. CUP comprises 2-5% of all diagnosed cancers worldwide and is characterized by early and aggressive metastasis. Current standard evaluation of CUP requires histopathologic evaluation and identification of favorable risk subtypes that can be more definitively treated or have superior outcomes. Current standard treatment of the unfavorable risk subtype requires assessment of prognosis and consideration of empiric chemotherapy. The use of molecular tissue of origin tests to identify the likely primary tumor site has been extensively studied, and here we review the rationale and the evidence for and against the use of such tests in the assessment of CUPs. The expanding use of next generation sequencing in advanced cancers offers the potential to identify a subgroup of patients who have actionable genomic aberrations and may allow for further personalization of therapy.