Symptoms and diagnosis of unknown primary cancer


There are no general symptoms for an unknown primary cancer. If you notice any changes in your body, it is important to report them to your GP. These changes could include abnormal bleeding, weight loss, tiredness or a lump.

These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so do have them checked by your GP.


Testing for a cancer when there are no symptoms is called screening. It is not possible to screen for unknown primary cancers. Talk to your GP if you feel you or your family are at risk of cancer.


Visit your GP first if you are worried about any symptoms. He or she will examine you. If your GP has any concerns about you, he or she will refer you to a hospital. There you will receive tests, which may include scans, X-rays, blood tests and tissue samples (biopsies).

Learn more about the above tests

Call our National Cancer Helpline

Freephone 1800 200 700 to talk to a specialist cancer nurse
It's open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm