Primary cancer, in simpler meaning, is the place where the cancer cells originally appeared. It is the first region that is thrived on by the cancer cells. It could be an organ, a gland or just a specific region. As long as it is the first one struck by the cells, it is referred to as primary cancer. Primary cancer could be known or unknown.
When it is known, the area is identified. This is the average case. For example, the identification could describe cancer cells forming in the breast, the conclusion could be that there is primary breast cancer. If the cancer cells were seen only in the lungs and nowhere else, there is primary breast cancer.
However, there are cases where the origin of cancer is not identified. This happens when there are a lot of areas already struck with cancer and determining which one had cancer cells first is futile. This is identified as unknown primary cancer.
The importance of knowing the area where it first appeared comes in when choosing the management method. A known primary cancer gives the doctors a solid judgment on what treatment to use. Primary breast cancer patients have greater chances of survival using the cancer treatments specifically formulated for such. Doctors can administer surgery and hormonal treatments for breast cancer patients, something that is proven and specially created for the kind of cancer. If the primary cancer is unknown, no specific management can be administered and be expected to work.
This can be likened to a bullet. If the primary cancer is identified, the bullet can be aimed to a particular spot and such can be hit right away. On the other hand, the unknown primary cancer is similar to a bullet aimed nowhere. It’s aiming anywhere hoping to hit something. It’s useless, if not, hopeless.