After experiencing pain in his back, Lee Young went for a scan. It revealed an 8.5 cm-long tumour near his kidneys. He was then referred to The Christie and was diagnosed with cancer of unknown primary (CUP).

CUP can be difficult to treat because, although doctors find a secondary tumour, they can’t find the primary one. Without that information, the main treatment for CUP patients is often broad-acting chemotherapy. But because this can’t be focused on the site of the primary cancer, the results can be less effective.

Lee was offered standard treatments options for his CUP, but he was also told he could join a clinical trial at The Christie, led by Dr Natalie Cook. This trial aimed to understand whether personalised treatment options, with either targeted treatments or immunotherapy, can improve outcomes for certain CUP patients.

Incredibly, Lee’s tumour shrunk by over half after 3 rounds of chemotherapy and the first round of immunotherapy. Lee said he started feeling much better, and he never expected the results to be so instant.

And Lee’s treatment was so effective that he decided to run the Manchester Half Marathon in October 2022 to raise funds for The Christie Charity, while he was still on the trial. As well as wanting to raise money, Lee also wanted to raise awareness of CUP, to highlight the need for more vital funding and research.

“When I initially went to the hospital, the doctors told me there was basically nothing they could do for me, it was such a shock. When I came to The Christie and they told me about Dr Natalie Cook’s clinical trials, I said yes without hesitation.

“The half marathon went really well, it was hard because I only trained for 6 weeks due to the chemo but all for a great cause! I raised £6,500!

I’m hoping to take on more fundraising soon, I’m still on the clinical trial but feeling really well.

Lee, Christie supporter and patient

Dr Natalie Cook’s trial for CUP patients changed Lee’s life, but it wouldn’t have been possible without Christie supporters like you. By donating to our CUP appeal today, you can help us continue our research to make the unknown known.