I’ve Just Been Told I Have Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Origin

There are very few things scarier than being told you have cancer. You may feel like you’re in shock. You may not even want to believe what the doctor has told you. And there are probably so many questions you want to ask, but think you can’t because you don’t know where to start.

First of all, it’s OK to be overwhelmed. And it’s OK to feel afraid. But you shouldn’t let those feelings stop you from finding out as much as you can about your cancer and about the options you have. Because the more you know, the less helpless and afraid you will feel. And the more you know, the better you will be able to work with your health care team to make the best choices for your treatment. To help deal with the medical information, it is helpful to write down your questions and bring a family member or close friend with you to doctors' appointments. 

To decide the best course of treatment, your doctor needs to learn as much as possible about the cancer. This will involve getting a variety of tests and working with more than one health care professional.

For example, your health care team will include a doctor who specializes in cancer, called a medical oncologist, and an oncology nurse. You may also see other cancer doctors with different specialties, such as a radiation oncologist. The team will answer all your questions and guide you through each of the steps that you’ll take before, during, and after treatment. Your team will let you know what tests are being done and what the results mean. They’ll help you in making treatment decisions. You can always ask for a talk with a second doctor about the diagnosis and treatment to get a second opinion. Many health insurance companies actually require a second opinion for certain diagnoses. For the most part, taking some time to make an informed decision about the best treatment options will not hurt your chance of the treatment working. And it can help ensure you feel comfortable with your plan.

Remember, it is not as important to make a quick decision, as it is to make an informed one. You should get all the information you can to help make the decision. It will also help you know what to expect from treatment and the cancer care team.