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Urgent referral

If you notice any unusual symptoms or changes to your body, go and see your GP. Many symptoms are often caused by conditions other than cancer.

But if you do have cancer, finding it early can often make it easier to treat.

Try not to let worry stop you from getting checked out. If any symptoms or changes continue for a couple of weeks or more, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. This includes:

  • A lump anywhere on your body
  • A cough or hoarseness that lasts for more than three weeks
  • A change in bowel habit that lasts for more than six weeks
  • Any abnormal bleeding from your vagina or back passage, in your urine or when being sick (vomiting).

At the appointment, your GP will discuss any symptoms and may want to examine you. They won’t be able to tell you if you have cancer at this stage but may refer you to the two-week urgent referral.

An urgent referral is one way that your doctor can refer you to hospital. It means that you have symptoms that could be due to cancer, although they are usually due to other conditions.

For further information about urgent referrals, what to expect if this happens to you, and tips to help you prepare for your appointment, click here.

If you cannot attend the appointment on the time or day you have been given, contact the number provided as soon as possible to rearrange.

If you have been waiting for your referral letter for a week or more, you should phone your GP surgery.

The two-week urgent referral for suspected cancer is a key element for achieving earlier diagnosis and improved survival rates for cancer in England.

Click here for more information on patient referrals.

This content is reproduced with permission by Macmillan Cancer Support and the patient information website of Cancer Research UK