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Conditions We Treat: Cancer of Unknown Primary Origin

Radiation therapy is a noninvasive treatment option for some patients with cancer of unknown primary origin. (The primary origin of the cancer is considered unknown when there are no symptoms or signs after a complete evaluation.) When it’s appropriate, radiation is offered as an integral part of a multidisciplinary approach to treating this type of cancer. As a nationally ranked hospital for specialized cancer care, Johns Hopkins offers multidisciplinary expertise and individualized treatment plans to provide safe, effective radiation for patients with cancer of unknown primary origin.

Cancer of Unknown Primary Origin: Why Choose Johns Hopkins

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Figure 1: Radiotherapy plan for a patient with an unknown primary tumor.

  • We offer multidisciplinary expertise through integrated consultations with radiation oncologists, medical oncologists and surgeons.
  • We provide individualized treatment plans that include specialized recommendations from experts in the field.
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Our Team of Cancer of Unknown Primary Origin Specialists

Our radiation oncologists offer specialized care and expertise in particular areas of cancer treatment.


Our Cancer of Unknown Primary Origin Treatments

To treat cancer of unknown primary origin, our radiation oncologists primarily use intensity-modulated radiation (IMRT) combined with chemotherapy

Our Research

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  • Our radiation oncologists work closely with radiation physicists and dosimetrists (members of the radiation oncology team who collaborate with the medical physicist and radiation oncologist) in clinical settings to provide safe and effective radiation treatments. We also perform innovative clinical and leading-edge basic science research to improve radiation treatment outcomes.
  • Radiation oncologists at Johns Hopkins uniquely use the Oncospace database to collect patient-reported outcomes and correlate these with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), as well as other patient symptoms.
  • Many of our physicians are involved in the following research-related activities:
    • Conducting ongoing clinical trials
    • Discovering new innovations in radiotherapy treatment design
    • Researching concurrent radiotherapy delivery with systemic therapy
    • Improving side effect management
    • Coordinating comprehensive research and treatment teams

Our Locations

Johns Hopkins Hospital

Johns Hopkins offers several convenient locations throughout the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region that provide radiation therapy for head and neck cancers.​

  • The Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
  • Johns Hopkins Health Care & Surgery Center - Green Spring Station
  • Sibley Memorial Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Health Care & Surgery Center – Bethesda 

Learn more about our locations.

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Maryland Patients



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Whether you're crossing the country or the globe, we make it easy to access world-class care at Johns Hopkins.

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International Patients

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