Is NUT Carcinoma Curable?

Reviewed on 5/28/2021

What is NUT carcinoma?

NUT carcinoma, also called NUT midline carcinoma, is a highly aggressive tumor arising due to abnormality in a gene called the NUT (nuclear protein in the testis) gene. NUT carcinoma may be curable when detected early.
NUT carcinoma, also called NUT midline carcinoma, is a highly aggressive tumor arising due to abnormality in a gene called the NUT (nuclear protein in the testis) gene. NUT carcinoma may be curable when detected early.

NUT carcinoma, also called NUT midline carcinoma, is a highly aggressive tumor arising due to abnormality in a gene called the NUT (nuclear protein in the testis) gene. Although cancer is caused by an alteration in the gene, it does not run in families. It generally affects children and young adults, although it may occur in people of all ages. The tumor is often potentially lethal because it grows and spreads quickly in the body. It typically arises from the midline epithelial cells (cells that make the skin and lining of certain hollow organs such as the stomach and lungs). NUT carcinoma is most commonly seen in the head, neck and lungs. It is a rare tumor, and there is scarce data about its prevalence.

What are the symptoms of NUT carcinoma?

Symptoms of NUT carcinoma depend on the site of cancer and whether it has spread in the body (metastasis). The most common sites of origin appear to be the thorax, head and neck. General symptoms include

Is NUT carcinoma curable?

NUT carcinoma may be curable when detected early. If cancer is confined to a small area from where it can be surgically removed, then the person may be cured. This is, however, seen in only a small percentage of people. Thus, the time of diagnosis and site of cancer in the body play a major role in determining whether cancer can be cured. In most cases, cancer has already spread to other sites by the time it is detected. Because cancer is quite aggressive and often resistant to treatment, survival rates are low. For NUT carcinoma, median survival time from diagnosis is just around six to seven months. This means that approximately half of the patients will live longer than six to seven months from the time the diagnosis is made. The other half is expected to live less time than that. The two-year survival rate for this cancer is around 30 percent. This means that around 30 percent of patients survive for at least two years from the time their diagnosis was made. Because NUT carcinoma is quite rare, there is not enough data to accurately determine the survival rate for this cancer.

How is NUT carcinoma treated?

Treatment of NUT carcinoma depends on several factors such as the site where cancer is present, whether it has spread in the body and the general health of the patient. Thus, treatment is individualized for each patient. Treatment options generally include

  • Surgery: The doctor may suggest surgery, especially when the tumor is present at an operable site. If the tumor is localized and removable, prognosis is generally better than when it cannot be surgically removed.
  • Chemotherapy: Doctors generally consider this when the tumor is large or has spread to other areas beyond its primary site. Many times, doctors perform chemotherapy in combination with surgery.
  • Radiation therapy: Doctors may perform radiation therapy when surgery is not possible or after surgery to prevent recurrence.

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References
Medscape Medical Reference

My Cancer Genome


Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


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