Cancer of unknown primary site is still a demanding condition as it is per definition metastatic, with heterogeneous biological behavior, and it is often resistant to therapy. Cancer of unknown primary site accounts for approximately 1 to 5 % of all cancers, but is currently among the top six causes of cancer deaths in Western countries. To correctly identify the biological origin of the tumor, a large spectrum of differential diagnoses must be considered and scrutinized. At progression, re-biopsy might be necessary to reveal the true origin of the tumor or actionable targets.
A 62-year-old Norwegian woman, with a fast growing lump in her left groin, was primarily diagnosed as having undifferentiated carcinoma that was BRAF V600 positive. There was complete response with paclitaxel-carboplatin and she was recurrence-free for 18 months. She had recurrence in both lungs and subcutaneously in her left groin and thigh; a re-biopsy revealed transformation to a malignant melanoma. She was resistant to BRAF inhibitors, then treated with ipilimumab and is currently a long-term survivor of 4 years and 4 months since the first diagnosis, with no clinical or radiological evidence of recurrence.
A biopsy from patients with metastasis of unknown primary should be analyzed thoroughly to identify organ of origin, molecular make-up, and possible molecular targets. Re-biopsy of cancer of unknown primary site at progression can reveal the true cellular origin of the tumor as well as provide novel therapeutic opportunities, including immunotherapy.
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- The undifferentiated carcinoma that became a melanoma: Re-biopsy of a cancer of an unknown primary site: a case report
Oluf Dimitri Røe
Sissel Gyrid Freim Wahl
- BioMed Central